Managing advertising agency client partnerships for value co-creation: characteristics, categories, and challenges

Montserrat Díaz-Méndez*, Michael Saren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
277 Downloads (Pure)


This article examines the role and characteristics of professional client partners in the value co-creation process. Previous literature has studied the role of clients in the co-creation process; however, the effects of different characteristics of clients on co-creation of value are less clear. This study examines these through a research design comprising depth multiple case studies of client relationships with professional service firms (PSFs). Empirical primary data were collected from in situ in-depth interviews with senior account managers in leading advertising agencies in Spain. Our initial results suggested that the type of clients and their characteristics was important for determining the potential and approach to managing their relationships for positive value creation. Further analysis identified key client characteristics and a classification of four types of clients: low involved novice clients, highly involved novice clients, control-concerned expert clients, and integration-concerned expert clients. We also found that not all client relationships resulted in positive value creation because some eventually produce detrimental or negative value consequence. We conceptualize this as the value depletion circle (VDC) and discuss the practical and theoretical implications of this phenomenon. Finally, alternative service relationships scenarios are described which can help institutions understand success and failure in their value creation relations and practices with clients and partners of different types. The contribution of this article is threefold. First, it analyses theoretically the role of client in the service co-creation process. Second, our multi-case study develops a classification of PSF clients into four categories. Third, we explain how dealing with called complex clients may generate a vicious circle, the VDC, which in the long run can seriously damage the sector image.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalMarketing Theory
Early online date3 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jul 2018


  • Advertising agencies
  • client characteristics typology
  • professional services
  • value co-creation
  • value depletion circle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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