Managing co-production and enhancing good governance principles: insights from two case studies

Abstract

Co-production of public services is attracting growing attention, although little is known regarding its outcomes. This paper aims to examine how the management of co-production can enhance the principles of good governance, which are intended as its potential outcomes. To this purpose, the research investigates the key issues in managing co-production to explain how they contribute to enhancing good governance principles and fulfil the potential of co-production as a transformative governance arrangement suitable for achieving outcomes instead of being an outcome per se. Two case studies were carried out in Italy with data gathered from both desk analysis and focus groups with key actors involved in the process of co-production. The findings show that group co-production may require limited participation and inclusiveness of actors who have a direct stake in co-produced services and are able to contribute to them. The findings also show that state actors should consider the perspective of lay actors for co-producing usable information. Specifically, the co-elaboration of managerial tools and measures contributes to strengthening horizontal accountability mechanisms which, however, act mainly through commitment. This study contributes to the body of knowledge on co-production and good governance by investigating key issues that can enhance good governance principles. It also provides practitioners with significant insights into the management of co-production.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Collaborative public management has been defined as a concept that ‘describes the process of facilitating and operating in multi-organizational arrangements… to achieve common goals… Collaborative public management may include participatory governance: the active involvement of citizens in government decision making’ (O’Leary and Bingham 2009: 3).

  2. 2.

    We are indebted for this distinction to John Alford who has used this typology in an unpublished paper circulated to one of the authors of this paper in 2017. The paper has the following title: Customer focus and co-production in the public sector—Distinguishing the roles of citizens, service-recipients and volunteers.

  3. 3.

    The terms Alpha and Beta are used for the sake of anonymity.

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Funding for this research was provided by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (R518).

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Campanale, C., Mauro, S.G. & Sancino, A. Managing co-production and enhancing good governance principles: insights from two case studies. J Manag Gov 25, 275–306 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10997-020-09508-y

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Keywords

  • Co-production
  • Management of co-production
  • Good governance
  • Public services