Dissertation: Joint building ventures – does co-creation bring value to the customer, or does it only produce second-rate results?

KTM Lauri Laaksonen väittelee Vaasan yliopistossa perjantaina 10. joulukuuta. Kuva: Riikka Kalmi
According to a new doctoral dissertation, a jointly building group can become a valuable resource for customers if the group’s role and communication falls into place. At worst, it can result in frustration, tension and competition between different objectives.

Customer involvement is already familiar in many sectors, but it is now being introduced in increasingly complex industries and services, such as provider-driven joint building ventures. In his doctoral dissertation, Lauri Laaksonen studied how a co-creating group can become a resource for a customer. He looked at two provider-driven joint building ventures of blocks of flats.

“A provider-driven joint building venture is still an exceptional service in residential construction. It means that the future residents who are the developers and the representatives of the provider acting as a consultant form a group, whose task is to carry out the construction of the object, such as a block of flats. In addition, a number of other actors are linked to this. The complexity of the phenomenon and the question of how positive value is formed for the participating customers made me interested in the subject,” Laaksonen says.

Several internal and external interdependencies and influence relations in the group

According to Laaksonen, joint building is a demanding phenomenon in terms of achieving an end result. The relationships between the individual customer, the service provider and the group form a very complex system.

“The group takes its final form during the process of participation and decision-making. Several interdependencies and influence relations are characteristic of the group.”

Mutual trust is emphasised in the group, along with persuasions. According to Laaksonen, members emphasizing their working and educational backgrounds is an essential aspect of persuasion. The response to persuasion in each situation may vary.

“For example, the board memberships of housing cooperatives and the expertise related to construction and interior decoration stood out,” says Laaksonen.

Outside the group itself, there are also a number of actors, such as architects, banks and municipal actors, who are essential for individual members or the group as a whole.

“Relations that are important for members are often not confined to the actual group. For example, conversations with a bank or architect may be important to customers. It is important for the service provider to identify and promote these critical relationships.”

Completing projects with good assignment of roles and communication

In a provider-driven joint building venture, different roles needed to carry out the project are given to and created for the group members. The success of the assignment of roles is important for the success of the project.

“Customers see the opportunities brought by the group in very different ways depending on their own logic, i.e. how each customer thinks they will achieve their goals. Some may see the group as a mere enabler of the building project, others as a social and innovative community, for example. It is particularly crucial how well the customer’s own role and the other members’ roles are congruent with her objectives and intended means.”

Although the service provider plays an important role in the project, there may also be necessary skills and expertise among the customers.

“For example, in joint building ventures, the expertise related to building design, spatial solutions, materials and interior design, as well as the members’ own related networks, are important. The service provider should recognise these skills and bravely give room for creativity. The crucial thing is to create a strong team spirit and common goals for the group, in which the members’ special skills are implanted.”

Communication in accordance with customers’ desires is essential in this type of a construction project. Laaksonen says that variation was observed, for example, in the way in which each member of the group wanted to discuss with different parties. The service provider should understand and enable this.

Good communication and assignment of roles are also important to ensure that customers have a common understanding of the group’s objectives, actions and division of roles and that they have the ability to perform their own tasks.

Balancing common and individual goals and actions

The management of the group is thus characterized by a constant balancing of the common goals and actions with the individual goals and actions of the members.

“For example, the study revealed that customers had different desires regarding communality, the progress of the project and influencing their own housing. Taking these into account could create tension and conflict with the project schedule, for example,” Laaksonen says.

He says that, in managing the group, it is important to pay particular attention to customers’ basic expectations. The result must be housing that meets the most important criteria, even if not all individual wishes could be taken into account.

A long project can also generate completely unexpected sources of value. Laaksonen mentions that co-creation in a group can produce social wealth for future housing. Although many of the residents were not really looking for a communal form of housing, they were afterwards satisfied that they had come to know their neighbours in advance.

“When managed properly, a joint building venture may be a good solution for the customer, fulfilling their wishes related to housing. With the learning of new things and communality, the process itself can also be significant for the customer.”

Service marketing research through a case study

Laaksonen’s doctoral dissertation Co-creating group as a resource for customers’ value formation in a complex service: a case study on provider-driven joint building ventures is situated in the field of service marketing.  The theoretical framework relates to customer value formation and the group’s structure, key activities and processes, and its dynamics. The empirical case study was carried out by observing the progress of one provider-driven joint building venture and interviewing the participating customers from two provider-driven joint building ventures.

Doctoral dissertation

Laaksonen, Lauri (2021) Co-creating group as a resource for customers’ value formation in a complex service: a case study on provider-driven joint building ventures. Acta Wasaensia 472. Väitöskirja. Vaasan yliopisto.

Publication pdf: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-476-989-1

Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc. Lauri Laaksonen’s doctoral dissertation “Co-creating group as a resource for customers’ value formation in a complex service: a case study on provider-driven joint building ventures” will be held on Friday 10.12.2021 at 13 at the University of Vaasa, auditorium Wolff.

Participation for the event is also possible online: https://uwasa.zoom.us/j/63200804386?pwd=UHpPNWpBVjd2S3dLbnZnOS9Mc1FVZz09 
Password: 811091

Professor Elina Jaakkola (University of Turku) will act as an opponent and Professor Arto Rajala as custos.

At all public events held indoors at the university, such as public examinations of doctoral dissertations, a COVID-19 passport is required of outside participants over the age of 16. This does not apply to our staff. Read further instructions on the university's website.

Furher information

Lauri Laaksonen,tel +358 (0)29 449 8171 email: lauri.laaksonen (@) uwasa.fi

Lauri Laaksonen was born in 1991 in Vaasa. He graduated from Korsholms Gymnasium upper secondary school in 2010 and graduated as Master of Science in Economics and Business Administration in 2016 from Hanken School of Economics. After graduation, Laaksonen worked as a project researcher in various projects, after which he became a full-time doctoral student at the University of Vaasa.

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