The Mediterranean Lab for Co-production 

of Social Innovation

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In Progress

Towards co-production of public policies 02

soporte 22 November 2022

The term “co-production” finds its academic origins in the public sector, in the work of Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom (1996) and other economists in the 1970s who studied collaboration between government departments and citizens, showing that it was encouraged effective service delivery through collaboration between professional providers and service users, rather than central planning.

In recent decades, governments have (re)discovered the citizen as an important actor in the design, implementation and monitoring of public policies and services.

Co-production is an approach to decision making and service design rather than a specific method. It rejects the traditional understanding of service users as dependent on public services and instead redefines the service/user relationship as one of codependency and collaboration. In practice, it means that those affected by a service are not only consulted, but are part of the conception, design, direction and management of the services.

Co-production goes far beyond the idea of ​​”citizen participation” or “participation of service users” to promote the principle of equal partnership. It offers to transform the dynamic between the public and public service workers, putting an end to “them” and “us”. Co-production turns service users from passive recipients into active shapers of public services because it means involving all stakeholders, including the people who use a service, in the process of determining what services are provided and how they operate.

We can distinguish three levels of co-production:

Compliance (descriptive): Co-production occurs at the service delivery stage, when caregivers and people who use services collaborate to achieve results. People who use the services make contributions at each stage of service delivery, but are not involved in implementation. Despite the awareness that care services cannot be produced without the participation of the people who use the services, the level of compliance offers little opportunity for real change by or for the people who use the services because it is tries to comply with an existing regime.

Support (intermediate) : The intermediate level of co-production recognizes and values ​​the many people who come together to co-produce care services. Recognize the contribution and value of service users, use existing support networks, and improve channels for people to get involved in shaping services. It can include new or more involved roles for users in the recruitment and training of professionals and managers. You can also see that the responsibilities are shared with the people who use the services.

Transformation: The most effective co-production methods can transform services and create new relationships between the people who use them and the staff. This transformative level of co-production takes a “lifelong approach”, incorporating quality of life issues as well as simply clinical or service issues