Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify the role of mediators in supporting value co-creation for vulnerable consumers in a service context. The authors propose that in transformative services, the roles of actor mediators facilitate control and empowerment for the vulnerable consumer – labelling these transformative service mediators (TSMs).
Design/methodology/approach: The authors develop a theoretical framework for the activities of mediators in value co-creation considering the interrelationships of vulnerability, structure and agency. The authors then use Prahalad and Ramaswamy’s DART (Dialogue, Access, Risk Assessment and Transparency) model as the integrating framework to describe the TSM roles in the context of the foster care service ecosystem.
Findings: The authors introduce a future research agenda regarding TSM roles in transformational service experiences and value co-creation with vulnerable consumers. Service researchers and providers are encouraged to explore effective training and motivation of TSMs.
Research limitations/implications: Understanding value co-creation for vulnerable consumers is an emerging area in service research. The TSM concept introduces a new approach to explore how value co-creation and transformative outcomes can be enhanced in service contexts where consumers experience vulnerability.
Practical implications: This paper presents an agenda for future research. The outcomes of future research based on TSM roles may help guide service providers in identifying opportunities for enhancing well-being and reducing vulnerability in service delivery.
Originality/value: This paper suggests that exploring the role of TSMs in the service process offers new insights into reducing vulnerability in service relationships.