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Co Production and Co Governance: Strategic Management, Public Value and Co Creation in the Renewal of Public Agencies across Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - COGOV (Co Production and Co Governance: Strategic Management, Public Value and Co Creation in the Renewal of Public Agencies across Europe)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-04-30

COGOV responds to the challenge that European societies are facing a large number of complex (‘wicked’) problems which increasingly require collaborative and innovative solutions, whilst, at the same time, the public sector is caught in a cross-pressure between growing expectations from citizens and scarce public resources in an era of austerity. COGOV also responds to the call in EU Horizon 2020' ‘Understanding the Transformation of European Public Administration’ by exploring participatory practices that are able to generate high levels of civic participation, public engagement and the legitimacy of the decision making and service delivery processes.

In response to these challenges, COGOV aims to locate, explore and diffuse leading edge experiments in new, participatory and user-facing approaches to strategic management and administration that are becoming increasingly evident across various countries in Europe. In doing so, COGOV recognises that such new forms engage citizens, who are necessarily recognised as experts in their own life and who are capable of providing important inputs (in terms of resources, ideas and energy) into the process of public governance.

The key question for COGOV is, how can strategic management enable local governments and public agencies to exploit the drivers - and overcome the barriers - to the co-production or co-creation of innovative public value outcomes at both organizational and project levels, and which lessons can be shared on undertaking strategically managed co-creation?

Organisationally, COGOV will examine the efforts of local governments (and other regional and national public agencies) to transform themselves from ‘bureaucratic authorities’ - treating citizens as legal subjects - and ‘service providers’ - treating citizens as customers - into ‘arenas for co-co-production and co-creation’ in which the citizen emerges as ‘partner’.

The project’s conceptual contribution is to suggest that such wholesale renewal and redesign of public agencies can be best understood through a post-New Public Management strategic management approach. Such an approach will draw upon ‘downwards-facing models of public management including, public value, network governance, digital governance, collaborative leadership and co-governance, co-production and co-creation.

COGOV's key findings are strongly linked to practice and practitioners. At the core of our ambitions are plans to develop an evidence based tool kit for use by practitioners to adapt and improve their day-to-day management practices across Europe.
1. COGOV Literature Review: this provides an in-depth review of the conceptual underpinnings of models for the strategic and participatory renewal of public services organisations. The review also examines the extent of the relative diffusion of these relevant models across different jurisdictions and identifies the drivers as well as barriers to the adoption of such participative strategic management models. Key contributions relate to ensuring definitional clarity, mapping cross-national applications, and exploring conceptual inter-relationships.

2. Repository of Strategic Practices: highlights instances of co-production and co-governance approaches in action and provides initial evidence on over 30 innovative and promising cases of co-production and co-creation. This links to the objective of developing a repository of ‘best’ practices to inform the desired renewal of public administrations across Europe.

3. Template for Case Study Selection, Fieldwork and Analysis: In terms of methodology, this report outlines how COGOV will employ an “information-oriented selection” approach, namely cases are purposeful samplings, selected to enlighten key features of interest and to inform COGOV objectives. The document also contains an early exemplar of how case studies will highlight instances of co-production and co-governance approaches in action.

4. Scoping Interviews with public managers has begun in year 1. Such scoping interviews are with key policy-makers (across different levels of governance) associated with the policy sectors and issues reflected in the case studies. This links to the aim of producing process–orientated knowledge about the dynamics and developmental patterns of strategic development within public services organisations in Europe.

5. Locating COGOV within key networks: COGOV has been successful in year one in: promoting the project and its results among the project’s own community (e.g. academic researchers, different stakeholders involved in strategic renewal via co-creation in national, regional and local governance agencies); Fostering stakeholder engagement in COGOV so that stakeholders can both contribute to shaping the research agenda and exploit COGOV results in their own practices; creation of a Project Advisory Board; Improving the visibility across Europe of both the project and the work of project partners; Planning and developing research and scholarly outputs.

6. Planning in other areas of work. This includes the survey commencing in month 12, where the planning team has already met and prepared a draft plan that has been circulated amongst team members. A similar process and planning document are now in place for other areas of work including the comparative study of Territorial Cultural Strategies and the role of professionals in strategic renewal.

7.Developing a Model for the Toolkit: This model (which incorporates a Customer Journey Mapping approach), is based around four stages: assessment of the organizational maturity for co-creation; assessment of services to be renewed based on co-creation principles; supporting the renewal of specific services identified with the tool 'Co-Serve'; and, enabling the evaluation of the co-creation process.
Public beneficiaries of the research project include strategic managers in service organisations, along with their professional staff, groups of users, affected groups of citizens, and related NGOs. The ultimate aim is to positively contribute to the more effective, accessible, socially inclusive and legitimate production of public services by public agencies and their more effective co working with groups of users, citizens and NGOs. At the end of its first year, (2018-2019), COGOV’s projected impacts are still relevant and are an integral part of the projects planning for years 2 & 3.

While wider impacts on academic research, practice, and practitioners will be particularly felt later in the project (following the data collection in year 2 for example), a number of important pathways to impact have already been established in year 1:

• The Literature Review has defined, clarified, and operationalised the debates on downward-facing approaches to the management of public services across the EU
• The Work on Case Studies has both identified and codified examples of innovative practice
• The Scoping Interviews with key policy makers have captured the wider policy development and strategic contexts of new approaches
• An emerging methodology for the development of the toolkit has been developed
• As part of the data collection, contacts have been made with a variety of policy-makers and organisations (including in Spain – a country where parallel work would add to COGOV’s findings).
• To back up the Impact Plan, there have been extensive engagement and dissemination activities (see above)