In this article, we explore and discuss the implications and relevance of the concept of co-production to the design of performance measures. Such a co-production approach to performance management is grounded upon a conception of public management that emphasizes collective problem-solving involving not only government officials but also citizens. We argue successful application of such an approach requires that both officials and citizens be cognizant of their role as co-producers in the process of public service delivery. Whether such a cognitive basis exists in a particular context will affect the utility and viability of the co-production approach and is an important question that needs to be addressed empirically. To illustrate the importance of the cognitive basis for co-production, we have conducted an empirical analysis of data collected in a survey in three cities in China. Our analysis suggests that the officials and citizens in the sample generally do not recognize that public administration is a co-production process involving the efforts of both officials and citizens. Yet, our analysis identifies a number of leverage points for building the cognitive basis. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.