Collaboration in public services: can service users and staff participate together?

Michelle Farr

in Critical Perspectives on User Involvement

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9781847427519
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305590 | DOI:
Collaboration in public services: can service users and staff participate together?

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This chapter analyses collaborative forms of participation that involve both users and front-line staff in the process of creating public service improvements and innovations. Often called co-production, co-design or co-creation, these participative mechanisms are designed to promote and value the experience, skills and knowledge of users, developing partnerships between service users and public service staff to redesign and produce services that promote dignity, welfare and well-being. The analysis investigates how and why these processes might prompt changes, the management practices needed to support these mechanisms, the influence of contextual conditions, power relations and the impact of collaboration. This is achieved using a realist synthesis of co-production, co-design and co-creation cases and expert interviews with facilitators and managers who have been involved in such projects. The chapter draws on research conducted within local government and health service settings. It concludes that whilst co-production does not have the same independence and political character of autonomous action by service users and is thus not able to address broader human rights issues, it can be an effective means of achieving change within organisational boundaries.

Keywords: co-production; co-design; partnership; institutional context

Chapter.  3820 words. 

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