New Perspectives in Policy and Politics

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This chapter has three objectives. The first is to show that while co-production was originally tied to service production, co-creation has broader applications in the field of public governance and involves a broader range of actors and activities. The second objective is to demonstrate how the co-creation concept both builds on and extends the concept of collaborative governance, thus adding new dimensions to an already well-established literature. The final objective is to show how a strategic turn to co-creation introduces a new type of ‘generative governance’ aimed at solving complex problems by constructing platforms enabling the formation of arenas for co-creation that bring together a plethora of public and private actors, including citizens, in creative problem-solving processes. The three objectives are achieved through prospective theoretical analysis aimed at providing a conceptual foundation for analysing cutting-edge societal developments that are not yet commonplace.

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Collaborative governance is believed to lead to more innovative solutions to complex problems in public services. This chapter analyses whether this hypothesis applies in the case of decentralisation of labour market policy to regional networks of various actors in the Netherlands. We first develop a theoretical argument that integrates theories of collaborative governance with theories of innovation, distinguishing between a wide and a small option for innovation in relation to the structure, process and output/outcome of collaborative governance. Our findings show that, despite a variety of partnerships and ambitions across the regions, new and bold solutions to complex problems are scarce. In particular, wide innovation, which creates public value beyond the existing policy frameworks and services, is limited in practice. The chapter advances the theory by specifying barriers and conditions for network innovation in the public sector, and provides some suggestions for further research.

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The chapters in this edited collection add to a rapidly developing literature on co-creation in public services management. This final chapter focuses what might otherwise be a wide ranging discussion by addressing core themes proposed in the volume’s introduction. We consider:

• basic definitions of co-production and co-creation; the claim of a possible move from lower order co-production to higher level co-creation;

• the link with different models of strategic management, why strategic management is important and which models are promising;

• the potential role of digitalisation in the move to co-production and co-creation;

• the possible link with co-creation informed innovation which contributes to the pursuit of public value outcomes.

We examine the potential role of strategic management along with the nature of any ‘metagovernance’ of associated policy networks. The conclusion makes general observations and considers future research direction.

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This chapter provides a theoretical understanding of the potential contribution of digital platforms to the co-creation of public value. On the basis of insights from different academic disciplines, a layered model is developed for the relations between technology, governance, users and societal outcomes. The theoretical model proposes that these layers can result in basic configurations – consistent combinations of the four elements – but also hybrid configurations. We identify three basic configurations: (1) a closed platform controlled by a private sector organisation, (2) an open platform controlled by a government organisation and (3) an open platform run by a civil society organisation. The configurations are illustrated with examples of digital platforms from all over the world. The configurational understanding of digital platforms for the co-creation of public value provides the basis for a systematic analysis of these rapidly growing practices in countries around the world.

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Governance researchers are increasingly interested in how co-creation can contribute to promoting public value in contemporary liberal democracies. While many have already argued for the potential benefits of employing co-creation in government strategies aiming to enhance public value, few have considered the implications of such a strategy for public leadership. Drawing on recent strands of theory on leadership and management, we specify how public leaders can use co-creation as a tool to achieve policy goals, and we illustrate this specification by showing how politicians and public and non-profit managers perform the public leadership of co-created public value in Gentofte, Denmark and Minneapolis‒St Paul, USA. The main proposition is that this kind of public leadership does not only involve a strategic effort to engage, inspire and mobilise actors with relevant governance assets – including legitimacy, authority and capabilities – but also to align their understandings of what is valuable for the public.

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The current transformations in society, the economy and the public sector call for the development of more unified theoretical frameworks. This chapter takes the literature on strategic management as a theoretical entry angle and aims to better understand how the adoption of models of strategic management can enable processes of public value co-creation. Utilising the literature centred on the notion of ‘schools of thought’ in the strategic management of public services, the chapter discusses how co-creation as a mode of governance in public services can contribute to innovative public service solutions and value co-creation. The Welsh Water’s ‘Water Resilient Community’ – a project characterised by long-term strategic planning as well as by local innovation – is used to illustrate the argument. Four propositions on the drivers/enablers and key managerial issues for undertaking a strategic approach to co-creation as a mode of governance are offered to enhance future practice, research and theory.

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As the practices of public governance are rapidly changing, so must the theoretical frameworks for understanding the creation of efficient, effective and democratic governance solutions.

First published as a special issue of Policy & Politics journal, this book explores the role of strategic management, digitalisation and generative platforms in encouraging the co-creation of innovative public value outcomes. It considers why we must transform the public sector to drive co-creation and the importance of integrating different theoretical strands when studying processes, barriers and outcomes.

This book lays out important stepping-stones for the development of new research into the ongoing transition to co-creation as a mode of governance.

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The expansion of the scope and significance of co-creation in public policy and governance prompts the integration of different theoretical strands that together can help us illuminating the antecedent conditions, the processes of multi-actor collaboration, the creation of innovative solutions and the assessment of their public value. Exploring the affinities and complementarities of relevant perspectives such as theories of co-creation, public value management, public innovation, collaborative governance, network governance, strategic management and digital era governance may foster a more comprehensive framework for studying the co-creation of public value outcomes such as needs-based services, effective governance and democratic legitimacy. This introduction seeks to explain why we must transform the public sector in order to spur co-creation, how strategic management and digital platforms can support this transformation, and why we must bring together and synthesize different bodies of theory when studying the complex processes of co-creation and their drivers, barriers and outcomes.

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Behavioural public policy is predominantly based on insights from behavioural economics and psychology in order to ‘nudge’ people to act in line with specific aims and to overcome the dilemma of behaviour that contradicts economic rationality. In contrast, we define behavioural public policy as a multi-disciplinary and multi-methodological concept that utilises insights from the whole range of behavioural research. Based on a scoping review and peer survey we see merit in behavioural insights from disciplines such as anthropology, geography and sociology as well as the application of qualitative methods. Our findings identify the need to advance behavioural public policy conceptually and methodologically. This chapter challenges our current understanding of behavioural policymaking by integrating ‘foreign’ views and approaches that do not (yet) belong to the core discipline. We argue that behavioural public policy should not be a synonym for a limited number of policy approaches (for example, nudges) based on specific research methods (for example, randomised control trials) to reach individual behaviour change. Instead, our findings suggest a redefinition of the scientific footing of behavioural public policy.

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Behavioural and experimental projects have become increasingly popular with policymakers. Behavioural insights teams have used several policy design and implementation tools drawn from behavioural sciences, especially randomised controlled trials, to test the design of ‘nudge’ interventions. This approach has attained discursive legitimacy in government agencies seeking to use the best available evidence for behaviourally informed, evidence-based policy innovation. We examine the practices of governmental behavioural insights teams in Australia, drawing on two research projects that included interviews with key personnel. We find that teams make strong commitments to using and promoting randomised controlled trials in government policy innovation. Nevertheless, some members of these teams are beginning to appreciate the constraints of relying solely on randomised controlled trials in the development of behavioural public policy. We conclude that while an initial focus on rigorous trials helped behavioural insights teams establish themselves in policymaking, strict adherence may represent a risk to their long-term growth and relevance.

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