Where Next for Co-creating Public Services?
Emerging lessons and new questions from CoSIE
Many models of innovation involve co-creation, which implies that people who use (or potentially use) public services work with providers to initiate, design, deliver and evaluate them (Voorberg et al. 2014, Torfing et al. 2019). The goal of the Co-Creation of Public Service Innovation in Europe project (CoSIE) is to contribute to democratic renewal and social inclusion through co-creating innovative public services by engaging diverse citizen groups and stakeholders in varied public services.
CoSIE assumes that co-creation becomes innovative if it not only concerns the reduction of the public expenditure, but if it manages also to meet social needs, and to empower the beneficiaries of policies, by changing socio-political relations and redistributing socio-political responsibilities. More specifically, it aims to a) advance the active shaping of service priorities by end users and their informal support network and b) engage citizens, especially groups often called ’hard to reach’, in the collaborative design of public services. One way it does this is through the development of ten pilot cases, embedded in national contexts which strongly differ in socio-cultural, socio-political and socio-economical dimensions. The subsequent comparison permits an examination of the existence of common enabling or hindering factors.
The CoSIE project builds on the idea that public sector innovations can be best achieved by creating collaborative partnerships between service providers (i.e. public sector agencies, third sector organisations, private companies) and citizens who benefit from services either directly or indirectly. Co-creation in CoSIE is an emerging, collaborative and power balancing activity that aims to enrich and enhance the value in public service offerings at any stage in the development of new service and during its implementation. It is manifested in a constructive exchange of different kinds of resources (ideas, competences, lived experience, etc.) that enhance the experienced value of public service. Individual and public value may be understood in terms of increased wellbeing, shared visions for the common good, policies, strategies, regulatory frameworks or new services.
This paper draws together some of the ‘big ideas’ emerging from CoSIE in the form of a discussion paper aimed at European, national and regional policy-makers. The big ideas emerging from CoSIE can be grouped together as ideas associated with conceptualising co-creation, implementing co-creation and evidencing co-creation:
- Strengths or asset-based approaches are key to co-creation
- Co-creation is a moral endeavour
- The role of technology in co-creation and innovation
- The role of professionals in co-creating public services
- Scaling up co-created innovations in public service reform
Evidencing and evaluating co-creation in public service reform
- Challenges for evaluators
- Options for evaluating co-creation and strengths-based approaches
Fox, C., Baines, S., Wilson, R., Martin, M., Ganugi, G., Prandini, R., Bassi, and Gründemann (2020) Where Next for Co-creating Public Services? Emerging lessons and new questions from CoSIE, Turku: Turku University of Applied Sciences