Learning from Innovation in Public Sector Environments

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10 september 2013

News: Conference paper EGPA 2013: Co-creation and Co-production in Social Innovation: A systematic Review and Future Research Agenda

This week, a new paper on 'Co-creation and Co-production in Social innovation' will be presented at the EGPA conference by some Dutch partners of the LIPSE project (William Voorberg, Victor Bekkers and Lars Tummers).

In the paper, it is explained that active involvement of citizens into public service delivery lies at the core of the concept of social innovation. This involvement is often referred to as 'co-creation' or 'co-production'. Purpose of the review is to provide an overview about the existing knowledge concerning a) the objectives, types and definitions of co-creation/co-production, b) the influential factors to co-creation and co-production processes and c) the outcome of these processes. Furthermore, it aims to identify different gaps in the existing knowledge about co-creation and co-production.

This article reviews 122 academic records which are selected on their eligibility, which involves the participation of citizens in the design or implementation of public service delivery; the word 'co-creation' or 'co-production' must appear in the title and/or abstract of the record; the record should contain empirical data. Furthermore peer-reviewed records from the period of 1987-2013 were analyzed and the records needed to be written in English.

As the review shows, co-creation and co-production are defined often. Both involves the active involvement of citizens in public service delivery by creating sustainable partnerships with citizens. In the literature a distinction can be made between three types of involvement: 1) citizens as co-implementer of public policy, 2) citizens as co-designer and 3) citizens as co-initiator. The first level is represented the most frequent.

Furthermore, in most records, specific objectives what the involvement must achieve are often not formulated. It appeared that most studies are aimed at the identification of influential factors. These factors can be identified on the organizational side (for instance the compatibility of public organizations, the attitude of public officials or the administrative culture) or on the citizen side (for instance personal characteristics, awareness of citizens and social capital). As a result, systematically gained empirical evidence to the outcomes of co-creation/co-production processes is often lacking.

The paper concludes that co-creation and co-production has primarily symbolic value and seems to be considered as values in itself. Further research is required in order to examine what kind of specific outcomes co-creation and co-production processes have and under which circumstances these outcomes occur. A detailed research agenda is shown, involving methodological, theoretical and empirical lacuna's.

To read the full text, download the paper here.

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