Co-production: theoretical roots and conceptual frameworks

Bovaird, Tony and Loeffler, Elke (2022). Co-production: theoretical roots and conceptual frameworks. In: Ansell, Christopher and Torfing, Jacob eds. Handbook on Theories of Governance. Political Science and Public Policy 2022. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 446–461.



This chapter explores how subtle differences in the meaning ascribed to 'co-production' have arisen, both because people using the term come from different disciplines, with widely differing theoretical roots, and because over time the idea behind co-production (the valuable contributions of citizens to organizations) has been discovered to have application to many aspects of organizational behavior. We examine critically [JT1] the concept of co-production in terms of its role in different types of citizen-government interaction, suggesting that citizens can add valuable inputs to the four main stages of the 'policy cycle', so that commissioning of public services and outcomes becomes co-commissioning, design becomes co-design, delivery becomes co-delivery and evaluation becomes co-assessment, giving us the 'Four Co's'. This makes clear that co-production has a strong political as well as 'technical' element - citizens may be involved in key political decisions about service and outcome priorities, not simply in managerial decisions about service delivery.

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