The case against co-production as a silver bullet: Why and when citizens should not be involved in public service delivery




co-production, public services, citizen involvement


Co-production refers to the collaboration of public service professionals and citizens / service users in the design and delivery of public services, which is said to make services more effective, democratic, and efficient. Despite normative agreement of the benefits of co-production, some practitioners argue that there are instances in which co-production is not the silver bullet that it is promised to be. These arguments are that co-production should not be undertaken: when it is under resourced, when the involvement of citizens substitutes paid work, or when co-production is asking too much of citizens. Instead, I argue that practitioners should consider whether citizen involvement in public service delivery can be done meaningfully, in a way that builds upon the expertise of both professionals and citizens instead of assuming that co-production is always the answer.


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