The Hidden Side of Co-Creation in a Complex Multi-Stakeholder Environment: When Self-Organization Fails and Emergence Overtakes

Part of the Translational Systems Sciences book series (TSS, volume 22)


Co-creation is typically defined as a mode of collaborative action, which is based on the complex combination of both top-down designing and bottom-up organizing from service beneficiaries. As a practice, co-creation is seen in an affirmative light. It is seen to provide a solution for many service planning, delivery and implementation problems faced by governments and public service organizations. However, in addition to improvement of means of providing public services, co-creation also introduces many challenges. Using the concepts of self-organization and emergence this conceptual chapter explores the hidden side of co-creation, i.e. situations which may produce unforeseen and undesirable consequences. The chapter contributes to both public service research and complexity sciences by introducing a framework which describes how ideal co-creation might turn into participative diversion, pop-up participation or even unintended co-destruction.



This paper was created in conjunction with the Co-creation of Service Innovation in Europe (CoSIE) project. The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme H2020-SC6-COCREATION-2017 under grant agreement No 770492.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Turku University of Applied SciencesTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Emergency Services Academy FinlandKuopioFinland
  3. 3.University of VaasaVaasaFinland

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