This paper presents methodological reflections from a programme of empirical research across two distinct but related projects, which culminated in an examination of the employment experiences of new migrants in the North East of England. This mixed-methods research focused on the position and experiences of migrants from Eastern European countries joining the EU in 2004 and 2007, and refugees and asylum seekers from a broad range of countries. Co-produced by an interdisciplinary academic team, migrants living and working in the region and voluntary sector organisations involving and supporting migrants, the research looked to address gaps in evidence to support education, advocacy and service provision. The paper argues that while co-production has tremendous potential to traverse the borders of theory and action in pursuit of positive change in people's lives, careful consideration needs to be given to distinct incarnations and the manner in which co-production emerges through specific conditions and relationships. We identify the principles underpinning this research, but also illustrate how our approach developed over time into a form of distributed-resource, which was able to connect organisations, people and resources from varied sources around shared values and an interest in outcomes.