The Role of Public Servants in Supporting Local Community Projects: Citizen-Led Co-production in Quebec

  • Caitlin McMullinEmail author
Living reference work entry


Studies of co-production tend to focus on the collaboration between citizens and professionals in delivering services where the professional is the “regular” producer of the service and the introduction of the citizen co-producer is new. This chapter explores the role of the professional in three case studies of the co-production of community development activities where citizens take a leadership position in co-production while practitioners instead take a support or complementary role as facilitators. In facilitating citizen-led co-production, practitioners face different challenges, such as the need to balance citizens’ needs and desires with the need for expediency, and the importance of different skills such as meeting moderation, management, and administration. Citizen-led co-production was possible in the case studies because of the nature of the community projects (which were not highly professionalized), the degree of citizen mobilization in the neighborhood, and the local culture and history of collaboration.


Co-production Citizen participation Community development 


  1. Bakker, J., B. Denters, M.O. Vrielink, and P.-J. Klok. 2012. Citizens’ initiatives: How local governments fill their facilitative role. Local Government Studies 38 (4): 395–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bovaird, T. 2007. Beyond engagement and participation: User and community coproduction of public services. Public Administration Review 67 (5): 846–860.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boyle, D., and M. Harris. 2009. The challenge of co-production: How equal partnerships between professionals and the public are crucial to improving public services. London: New Economics Foundation.Google Scholar
  4. Brandsen, T., and M. Honingh. 2015. Distinguishing different types of coproduction: A conceptual analysis based on the classical definitions. Public Administration Review 76 (3): 427–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. ———. 2018. Definitions of co-production and co-creation. In Co-production and co-creation: Engaging citizens in public services, 9–17. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brudney, J.L., and R.E. England. 1983. Toward a definition of the coproduction concept. Public Administration Review 43 (1): 59–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bussu, S., and K.P.R. Bartels. 2014. Facilitative leadership and the challenge of renewing local democracy in Italy. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38 (6): 2256–2273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dunston, R., A. Lee, D. Boud, P. Brodie, and M. Chiarella. 2009. Co-production and health system reform – From re-imagining to re-making. Australian Journal of Public Administration 68 (1): 39–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gouvernement du Québec. 2004. Cadre de référence en matière d’action communautaire. Québec.Google Scholar
  10. Jetté, C., and Y. Vaillancourt. 2011. Social economy and home care services in Quebec: Co-production or co-construction? VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 22 (1): 48–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lowndes, V., L. Pratchett, and G. Stoker. 2006. Diagnosing and remedying the failings of official participation schemes: The CLEAR framework. Social Policy and Society 5 (2): 281–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. McLaughlin, H. 2009. What’s in a name: ‘Client’, ‘patient’, ‘customer’, ‘consumer’, ‘expert by experience’, ‘service user’ – What’s next? The British Journal of Social Work 39 (6): 1101–1117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McMullin, C., and C. Needham. 2018. Co-production and healthcare. In Co-production and co-creation: Engaging citizens in public service delivery, ed. T. Brandsen, T. Steen, and B. Verschuere, 151–160. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nabatchi, T., A. Sancino, and M. Sicilia. 2017. Varieties of participation in public services: The who, when, and what of coproduction. Public Administration Review 77 (5): 766–776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Needham, C. 2008. Realising the potential of co-production: Negotiating improvements in public services. Social Policy and Society 7 (2): 221–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ostrom, E. 1996. Crossing the great divide: Coproduction, synergy, and development. World Development 24 (6): 1073–1087.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Parks, R.B., P.C. Baker, L. Kiser, R. Oakerson, E. Ostrom, V. Ostrom, … R. Wilson. 1981. Consumers as coproducers of public services: Some economic and institutional considerations. Policy Studies Journal, 9(7), 1001–1011.Google Scholar
  18. Pestoff, V. 2008. A democratic architecture for the welfare state. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ———. 2009. Towards a paradigm of democratic participation: Citizen participation and co-production of personal social services in Sweden. Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics 80 (2): 197–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schlappa, H., and Y. Imani. 2018. Who is in the lead? New perspectives on leading service co-production. In Co-production and co-creation: Engaging citizens in public services, 99–108. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Steen, T., and S. Tuurnas. 2018. The role of the professional in co-production and co-creation processes. In Co-production and co-creation: Engaging citizens in public services, 80–92. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Tuurnas, S. 2015. Learning to co-produce? The perspective of public service professionals. International Journal of Public Sector Management 28 (7): 583–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Van Eijk, C. 2018. Helping Dutch neighborhood watch schemes to survive the rainy season: Studying mutual perceptions on citizens’ and professionals’ engagement in the co-production of community safety. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 29: 222–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. van Meerkerk, I., B. Boonstra, and J. Edelenbos. 2013. Self-organization in urban regeneration: A two-case comparative research. European Planning Studies 21 (10): 1630–1652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Vanleene, D., J. Voets, and B. Verschuere. 2018. The co-production of a community: Engaging citizens in derelict neighbourhoods. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 29 (1): 201–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. ———. 2019. The co-production of public value in community development: Can street-level professionals make a difference? International Review of Administrative Sciences.

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Concordia UniversityMontrealCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Catherine Needham
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Services Management CentreUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations