This quarter’s collection highlights three of our most popular and highly cited articles in 2021 which, based on their readership and citation levels, have clearly made an important contribution to their fields.
The first article, A theoretical framework for studying the co-creation of innovative solutions and public value, forms an introduction to the special issue on co-creation in public policy and governance, guest edited by Jacob Torfing, Ewan Ferlie, Tina Jukić and Edoardo Ongaro, published in April 2021. The central proposition is that the concept of public value carries unexploited potential as a ‘game changer’ for advancing the co-creation of innovative solutions in the public sector. They argue that it allows us to appreciate the many different public and private actors, including service users, citizens and civil society organisations, which can contribute to the production of public value. The authors quip that co-creation is the “new black” because it mobilises societal resources, enhances innovation and builds joint ownership over new public value outcomes. Continue reading →
Special issue blog series on strategic management of the transition to public sector co-creation
Jacob 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 →
Many countries across the globe have seen an increasing involvement of non-state actors in public policies. Scholars have used the term of network governance to describe this phenomenon. In democracies, such networks pose challenges to the democratic legitimacy of public policies. How can citizens control non-state actors given that they cannot be held accountable via elections? Previous research on the topic has mostly focused on institutional aspects of ensuring democratic accountability of governance networks. Our recent Policy & Politics article entitled ‘Over-responsibilised and over-blamed: elected actors in media reporting on network governance’ shows that – beyond institutional mechanisms – the media play an important and independent role for holding policy actors accountable to the public, whether they are elected or not.
Empirically, we examine policy-making processes in big European city regions, where network governance is widespread and usually includes a wide array of policy actors. Are non-elected actors held accountable in the media as much as elected actors and do the media report adequately upon them? To verify these questions we examined 1200 news articles from 12 different newspapers in eight big cities in four European countries (Berlin, Stuttgart, Zurich, Berne, Birmingham, London, Paris and Lyon). We looked at the public accountability of different types of actors involved in governance networks: how visible are they in the media and to what extent are they held responsible for policy success or failure? We were interested whether the media simply informs the public or whether some actors are more interesting to the media than others (media logic). Continue reading →