The unpowered customer: Co-creation as tactics of the weak


Co-creation has been lauded for the exceptional benefits it offers to engaged actors, with a particular emphasis on its ability to empower previously passive, and sometimes disadvantaged, customers. Drawing on de Certeau’s notion of the tactics of the weak, we problematize this romantic view, unpacking some of the often unarticulated, opportunistic motives and behaviours of firms in co-creation processes in practice. We develop our contribution in the context of a small software business and its clients, collecting data through semi-structured interviews, observations, and archival documents. Our findings provide insights into the organizing practices that reinforce the disadvantaged positions of business customers. We outline three stages of opportunism that unfold inadvertently in the assumed democratised value co-creation space. We conclude with a discussion of the managerial and theoretical implications, and directions for future research.

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Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Marketing & Strategy
Additional Information: © 2021 Elsevier Inc. This is the accepted manuscript version of an article which has been published in final form at, made available on this repository under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND attribution licence (
Uncontrolled Keywords: Co-creation dark side,de Certeau,Opportunism,Tactics of the weak
Publication ISSN: 1873-7978
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2024 16:45
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2023 15:47
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Related URLs: https://www.sci ... 2927?via%3Dihub (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2021-09
Published Online Date: 2021-05-17
Accepted Date: 2021-04-17
Authors: Appiah, Gloria
Bonsu, Samuel K.
Sarpong, David (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-1533-4332)

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