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  • Author or Editor: Cristina Zurbriggen x
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In many parts of the world, governments are building new platforms, methods, and innovative experimental spaces to better respond to current complex problems. Laboratories in the public sector have emerged as experimental spaces that incorporate co-creation approaches to promote public innovation and social transformation. Although there is abundant literature about public innovation and reports on innovative practices, little progress has been made on how to evaluate these. In this paper, we describe the process that led to the development of an experimental evaluation tool for public innovation as part of an action-research process in a laboratory within the Uruguayan Government. The pilot prototype, the ‘Roadmap’ as we named it, seeks to provide a timely and purposeful means to learn from the co-creation processes and be accountable to public authorities and society. Aiming to build a learning system within the organisation to communicate results, we designed the Roadmap based on the confluence of various approaches, namely, development evaluation, organisational learning and reflexive monitoring. Other relevant approaches to public innovation and evaluation were also considered, such as public design evaluative thinking, social innovation evaluation, and systemic evaluation of learning.

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The language of co-creation has become popular with policy makers, researchers and consultants wanting to support evidence-based change. However, there is little agreement about what features a research or consultancy project must have for peers to recognise the project as co-creative, and therefore for it to contribute to the growing body of practice and theory under that heading. This means that scholars and practitioners do not have a shared basis for critical reflection, improving practice and debating ethics, legitimacy and quality. While seeking to avoid any premature defining of orthodoxy, this article offers a framework to support researchers and practitioners in discussing the boundaries and the features that are beginning to characterise a particular discourse, such as the one that is unfolding around the concept of co-creation. The paper is the outcome of an online and face-to-face dialogue among an international group of scholars. The dialogue draws on Critical Systems Heuristics’ () questions concerning motivation (revealing assumptions about its purpose and value), power (interrogating assumptions about who has control and is therefore able to define success), knowledge (surfacing assumptions about experience and expertise) and legitimacy (disclosing moral assumptions). The paper ends by suggesting important areas for further exploration to contribute to the emerging discourse of co-creation in ways that support critical reflection, improved practice, and provide a basis for debating ethics and quality.

Open access