SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 4 -Big dreams and small steps: regional policy networks and what they achieve

Special issue blog series on strategic management of the transition to public sector co-creation

van gestel and GortenbregNicolette van Gestel and Sanne Grotenbreg

In many Western countries there are high expectations of regional networks in policy areas as diverse as healthcare, energy supply or security. In such regional networks, government is supposed to develop partnerships with private and non-profit parties, to develop solutions to societal problems that have broad support and commitment. Generally speaking, both public and private actors often recognise that they need each other to achieve their goals. But this idea does not generate success by itself. Sometimes actors tend to focus on their own advantage when participating in networksand are not very efficient nor effective in working together. 

Our recent article in Policy & Politics focuses on a study of regional networks involved in labour market policy. Governments, employers, trade unions, clients and educational organisations are jointly looking for solutions to persistent problems, such as discrepancy between vacancies and job seekers, and the lack of job opportunities for people with mental or physical disabilitiesIn other words, they need to solve problems of mismatch and inequality that have increased further during the Covid-19 crisis. Decentralisation and regional cooperation should, in principle, ensure more integrated and efficient public services, but also engender creative solutions that go beyond existing policy frameworks  Continue reading

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 3 – How public leaders can use co-creation to make things better

Special issue blog series on strategic management of the transition to public sector co-creation 

sorenson et alEva Sørensen, John Bryson and Barbara Crosby

Governance researchers broadly agree that co-creation can be a productive way of mobilising the resources needed to solve complex societal problems and create something that citizens accept as valuable for society. We still know little about how public leaders can employ co-creation as a means to promote public value, however. In our new article in Policy & PoliticsHow public leaders can promote public value through co-creation’, we propose that co-creation can strengthen the ability of public leaders to align the goals of diverse constituencies in a way that achieves lasting value for the public. This kind of public leadership involves a strategic effort to engage, inspire and mobilise actors with relevant governance assets – including legitimacy, authority and capabilities. We illustrate the salience of our propositions in two case studies that document how politicians and public and non-profit managers perform public leadership of co-created public value in Gentofte, Denmark and Minneapolis‒St. Paul, USA.

The first step in specifying public leadership of co-created public value entails moving beyond traditional understandings of public leadership theory that have mainly focussed on the mobilisation of public sector actors and resources in solving public challenges as defined by politicians and civil servants according to rules and regulations. By contrast, leaders who aim to employ co-creation as a tool for promoting public value seek to mobilise actors and resources across organisations and sectors. The objective is not merely to improve public service delivery. It is also to promote an array of broader public value outcomes, which are not predefined by public authorities but are shaped and reshaped as part of the co-creation process. Continue reading

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 2 – Co-creation: the new kid on the block in public governance

Special issue blog series on strategic management of the transition to public sector co-creation

Ansell and TorfingChristopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing

In our recent article in our special issue on Strategic management of the transition to public sector co-creation, we reminisce briefly about the time when bureaucracy with its hierarchical command structure and emphasis on compliance with written rules was the only game in town. This was understandable, since the public sector was tasked with solving simple problems through large-scale provision of services such as schooling, health care and social welfare. This task called for exploitation of the bureaucratic forms of organisation propagated by industrialisation.

Then, from the 1970s onwards, the criticisms of the public sector for being inefficient and delivering poor services and failing governance solutions started to grow and the public sector was confronted with the question whether to ‘make or buy’. As a result, we saw the expansion of quasi-markets where public and private service providers competed for contracts and customers. This development turned citizens into demanding, dissatisfied and complaining consumers expecting service without having to contribute anything themselves towards problem solving. In the increasingly cash-strapped public sector, this development seems to be unsustainable. We need to mobilise the manifold resources of users, citizens and private stakeholders in order to provide needs-based services and create new and better solutions through mutual learning and innovation. Continue reading

NEW SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 1 – Public value as the game changer for co-creation of innovative solutions in the public sector

Special issue blog series on strategic management of the transition to public sector co-creation

updated special issue editors co creationJacob Torfing, Ewan Ferlie, Tina Jukić and Edoardo Ongaro

During the 1980s and early 1990s, we were consistently told that the public sector was ossified, incompetent and unimaginative, and squandered value produced by the hard-working and innovative private sector. Government was the problem, not the solution, and we should therefore have less state and more market. The neoliberal onslaught on the public sector had begun and public employees gradually developed an inferiority complex.

This nightmarish development was reversed by Mark Moore’s Creating Public Value (1995) who insisted that the public sector creates its own distinctive value. The public sector creates ‘public value’ defined as what has value for the public and public values. Public managers are not merely engaged in securing compliance with bureaucratic rules, but are entrepreneurs engaged in the exploration of new and better service and policy solutions. In this way, the public sector was redeemed and public managers could re-describe themselves as proud guardians of the public interest and producers of public value.  Continue reading