From passive customers to active co-producers: The role of co-production in public services
Tony Bovaird, Elke Löffler and Frankie Hine-Hughes explain what public service co-production is, and why it matters.
- Improving public service quality by bringing in the expertise of customers and their networks
- Providing more differentiated services and more choice
- Making public services more responsive to users
- Cutting costs
- citizens know things that many professionals don’t know … (‘customers as innovators’)
- ... and can make a service more effective by the extent to which they go along with its requirements and scrutinise it (‘customers as critical success factors’)
- ... and have time, information and financial resources that they are willing to invest to improve their own quality of life and into helping others (‘customers as resources’)
- … and have diverse capabilities and talents which they can share with professionals and other citizens (‘customers as asset-holders’)
- … and can engage in collaborative rather than paternalistic relationships with staff, with other service users and with other members of the public (‘customers as community-developers’).
- Co-planning of policy – e.g. deliberative participation, Planning for Real, Open Space
- Co-prioritisation services – e.g. individual budgets, Community Chests, participatory budgeting
- Co-financing services – e.g. fundraising, charges, agreement to tax increases
- Co-design of services – e.g. user consultation, Service Design Labs, Customer Journey
- Co-managing services – e.g. leisure centre trusts, community management of public assets, school governors
- Co-performing of services – e.g. peer support groups (such as expert patients) , Nurse-Family Partnerships, meals-on-wheels, Neighbourhood Watch
- Co-assessment (including co-monitoring and co-evaluation) of services – e.g. tenant inspectors, user on-line ratings, participatory village appraisals.
- Bovaird, Tony (2007) “Beyond engagement and participation – user and community co-production of public services”, Public Administration Review, 67 (5): 846-860.
- Bovaird, Tony and Löffler, Elke (2011), “From Engagement to Co-production: How Users and Communities Contribute to Public Services” in Taco Brandsen and Victor Pestoff (Eds), New Public Governance, the Third Sector and Co-Production. London: Routledge.
- Department of Health (2010), “Practical approaches to co-production: Building effective partnerships with people using services, carers, families and citizens”, London.
- Löffler, Elke; Parrado, Salvador; Bovaird, Tony and van Ryzin,Greg (2008), “If you want to go fast, walk alone. If you want to go far, walk together”: Citizens and the co-production of public services.Report to the EU Presidency. Paris: Ministry of Finance, Budget and Public Services (available at http://www.govint.org/english/main-menu/good-practice/publications/if-you-want-to-go-fast.html).
- Löffler, Elke (2009), A future research agenda for co-production: Overview paper. Swindon: Local Authorities Research Council Initiative.
- nef (2008). Co-production: A manifesto for growing the core economy, London: New Economics Foundation.
Tony Bovaird is professor of Public Management and Policy at the University of Birmingham, and works on the Third Sector Research Centre’s Service Delivery Stream. He is a member of the Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV) in the School of Government and Society within the University of Birmingham.