What Does Co-Creation Create

Marie Møller Gunnarsson

Student thesis: Master thesis


There is a growing interest in co-creation among many city councils, consultant companies and in the science field. The question of co-creation seems unavoidable. It is not hard to find supporters who evoke co-creation or literature about the great things co-creation creates. What is lacking is a critical view on cocreation. To observe “the other side” of co-creation this thesis is asking: What does co-creation also create? The thesis is based theoretically on Niklas Luhmanns concept of second order observation and observations as distinctions specified in a semantic analysis and a distinction- and paradox analysis supplied by theory of subjectivation by Foucault. The semantic analysis shows that co-creation is nothing new but is developing due time and today contains following distinctions: The pedagogically, the democratic, the economic and the potential. The second analysis is based on interviews with three local politicians from three different municipalities in Denmark, that are experimenting with co-creation. It finds that co-creation creates a bunch of distinctions and paradoxes that the co-creation research field does not yet seem to see. Based on the same interviews an exploration of political roles shows that the different roles are reducing some of the complexity that the distinctions and paradoxes create. When comparing these results with the most prominent scientist within co-creation today, professor Jacob Torfing from RUC, it becomes clear, that co-creation is more complex than what is mainly presented today. Finally, the thesis is giving a suggestion to handling the paradoxes of co-creation with the paradox of the gift. Even though a gift is not meant to be returned, the receiver of a gift will always be in debt to the one giving. When observing co-creation with the distinction of the gift co-creation partners are mutually committed – like glue! This “glue” in the society helps us understand why to even bother with the complexity of co-creation, and it gives us a way to handle the paradoxes with paradoxes.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages79
SupervisorsNiels Thyge Thygesen