Co-Creation: The Source of all Wisdom – or the Blind leading the Blind?

Dr Sheila Keegan
Campbell Keegan


This paper grew out of mild irritation at the faddish and ubiquitous use of the term co-creation applied to any activity labelled 'research' which involves a group of people, either face to face or as part of an online community, doing something – often experiencing something – together. Meanwhile, traditional research techniques, such as focus groups or depth interviews, steered by a professional researcher and involving thorough analysis and interpretation are, in some quarters, being dismissed as dated and irrelevant.

Co-Creation as a Research Panacea

There is something evangelical about co-creation which can seem rather disturbing. The titles of three recent papers give a flavour of this; 'The co-creation revolution', 'Co-creation rules…', 'The power of co-creation'. The contents of these papers have a similar religious ring; 'It's time to comprehend that the co-creation of value with consumers implies re-innovating innovation itself' (Gehling, 2008). 'When you set up co-creative relationships the most exciting thing that happens is not that your product or service gets more famous. The most exciting thing is that you are changed by the experience' (Cherkoff & Moore, 2007). '(Empowered consumers) demand more creative involvement; and co-creation can give this to them (Medeiros & Needham, 2008).