This article provides a conceptual framework for understanding the key differences between newly emerging ‘market’ relationships and more traditional forms of procurement by public sector organizations. It highlights how multiple relationships between service clients in the public sector and other stakeholders mean that service clients may often co-produce welfare changes in their communities in ways which professional and commercial providers cannot easily control and may not fully understand. It highlights the very different nature of collaborations which affect single commissioners and contractors (relational contracting), multiple commissioning bodies with a unified procurement policy (partnership procurement) and multiple commissioning bodies with diverse procurement policies empowered by a single purchasing body (distributed commissioning). The article suggests that traditional conceptions of the ‘market’ and of ‘market management’ are now outdated and need to be revised to take into account the potential of collaborative relationships between multiple stakeholders in the public domain.