Martin Mende, Florida State University
Maura L. Scott, Florida State University
Mary Jo Bitner, Arizona State University
Amy L. Ostrom, Arizona State University

Companies allocate increasing coproduction workload to consumers. Ironically, many consumers may be ill-equipped to coproduce, as indicated by low service literacy (e.g., financial literacy, medical literacy). This research examines how consumers, particularly those low in service literacy, respond to varying levels of firm-assigned coproduction workload. Five studies, including a hospital field experiment, reveal three findings. First, service literacy plays a moderating role, such that higher (vs. lower) levels of coproduction workload improve service outcomes (e.g., compliance intentions), particularly for consumers with low service literacy. Second, coproduction eustress is a crucial mediator such that positive service outcomes result from consumers appraising coproduction tasks as positive and meaningful challenges. In turn, eustress is itself elicited by consumers feeling that they collaborate with the provider to achieve a shared goal. Third, offering organizational support to consumers might mitigate the beneficial effects of coproduction eustress, because it can trigger reactance. This research helps policy makers and managers in finding new ways of activating consumers as coproducers for better service outcomes, particularly low service literacy consumers.


Forthcoming in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing