Co-production has risen to the fore of contemporary policymaking, with the intention of placing citizens at the heart of public service design and production. While this may lead to more democratic and legitimate decision making, achieving ‘meaningful’ co-production can be difficult. In this qualitative study we examine what constitutes meaningful co-production, in particular asking whether there is disconnect between the elite policy narrative that legitimizes co-production and stakeholder experiences of this approach. Our research adopts a decentered approach to examine the different ways that actors understand and participate in co-production, both as methodology and as an interactive social practice. We conclude that a lack of synergy between local narratives may undermine the potential success of co-production.