Co-production and the co-creation of value in public services: a suitable case for treatment?

Co-production is currently one of cornerstones of public policy reform across the globe. Inter alia, it is articulated as a valuable route to public service reform and to the planning and delivery of effective public services, a response to the democratic deficit and a route to active citizenship and active communities, and as a means by which to lever in additional resources to public services delivery. Despite these varied roles, co-production is actually poorly formulated and has become one of a series of ‘woolly-words’ in public policy. This paper presents a conceptualisation of co-production that is theoretically rooted in both public management and service management theory. It argues that this is a robust starting point for the evolution of new research and knowledge about co-production and for the development of evidence based public policy making and implementation.