CO-PRODUCTION OF PUBLIC SERVICES AND ITS ASSUMPTIONS: IN
SEARCH FOR EVIDENCE
The concept of co-production has been around for decades
(e.g. Ostrom 1996, Parks 1981), but has in recent years experienced a revival
(e.g. Pestoff & Brandsen, 2006 & 2009, Alford 2009, Pestoff et al.
2012). The renewed interest in the notion of co-production can best be
understood against the background of a search for new innovative,
cost-efficient ways to provide public services, the desire to strengthen local
democracy and the importance that is attached to user-generated knowledge. Only
recently Pestoff (2011) positioned coproduction as a core element of New Public
Governance (NPG, e.g. Osborne 2006).
The growth of interest in co-production during the past
ten years provides important insights into, but also important challenges for,
public management. Although already a lot can be learned from the colorful
palette of co-production we still need to further investigate its’ drivers,
mechanisms and functioning. Moreover, we need to systematically study whether
its implicit and explicit assumptions have a solid empirical ground. Resuming
the expectations and assumptions concerning co-production, it seems that
co-production should generate social capital, the development of new relations,
and cooperative behavior. Answering empirical oriented questions concerning the
functioning of co-production also helps us to understand more of how such a
concept as coproduction contributes to the quality of public services, whether
co-production is an applicable alternative to provide public services, whether
people and citizens get better involved, whether they are willing to take their
responsibilities and who do or do not benefit from co-production. In answering
these questions we should not only focus on technical issues, concepts and
structures, whilst neglecting the human factor, human interactions and
behavioral mechanisms, since we expect these factors to affect the success or
failure of notions such as co-production. The growing interest in
co-production, the number of services that refer to coproduction as the answer
to provide a public services of higher quality, and the proclaimed benefits of
citizen involvement, force us to take a closer look at the day to day functioning
of co-production and study its’ functioning more systematically.
This panel invites scholars to contribute to this debate.
It explicitly seeks empirical (comparative) papers testing the notions and
assumptions underlying the drivers, the processes and the effects/outcomes of
co-production. It is the ambition of the panel to establish a group of
researchers willing to cooperate in some future projects on co-production:
joint publications and joint research efforts with a focus on comparison. As
such the panel could be another opportunity to further establish the growing research
community on co-production, acknowledging the position of co-production in the
broader debates on NPG, network governance, and the role of the third sector in
the public domain.
Marlies Honingh (Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Bram Verschuere (University College Ghent and Ghent University, Belgium)
Abstracts should be submitted no later than 1 October
2012 to the panel chairs, with a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Authors will be notified of acceptance at 30 November 2012.
Final papers should be uploaded by 13 March 2013.
More information about the conference can be found at www.irspm2013.com