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Research – co-production practice

Co-production for Sustainability (2012 – 2032)

The Welsh Government’s Sustainable Development Change Programme began in May 2012. It is intended to support behavioural and culture change among civil servants in the Welsh Government.

The programme has championed co-production and made use of co-production techniques since it started. One of the first Quick Tips (that you can see on the website) was about how to start to co-produce, followed later by Quick Tips on coaching for co-production, the links between co-production and good governance and other topics. In addition, projects in mindfulness and behavioural insights have helped inform our deepening understanding of co-production practices.

The programme scope covers the ways of working of all (approx. 5000) civil servants who work for the Welsh Government. An architecture for the behaviour changes that are being sought is on the website. We are developing these new approaches through a collaborative programme of action research and on-demand service. By supplying advice, conversations, coaching, appreciative enquiries and space to think, the programme encourages civil servants to work with others to find creative solutions to policy and delivery challenges. The programme applies co-production methods and also acts as the primary link between u.lab and Theory U practitioners in Wales and the world.

Evaluation is carried out by academics from universities across the UK and has so far considered: the embedding of coaching across Welsh Government; flow and change; attention in leadership; use of mindfulness and behavioural insights to improve decision making; stakeholder engagement; co-production in public services and other topics. In addition a comprehensive feedback log helps us to understand how civil servants and their stakeholders feel about and respond to the programme.

Programme Help Sheets:

Video presentation: Transforming Capitalism – Sustainable Futures event, November 2018

Keywords: relational governance, mindfulness, coaching, co-production, appreciative enquiry, action research, wellbeing, organisational development

Contributed by: Diana Reynolds, Welsh Government



Developing exemplars of Value Co-creation in the Greater Manchester Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise sector (August 2018 – June 2019)

The project is funded by Community University Partnership Initiative (CUPI) and was developed using CUPI ‘Thinking Funding’. The development phase included engagement with VCSE organisations from the health and social care sector.

The research project itself is a very small study of five organisations who have self-identified as being engaged in co-production with their service users. Joint interviews are being conducted with one organisational representative and one service user per organisation in order to examine the nuts and bolts of co-producing together. Interviewees are asked to identify one example of co-production and reflect on this particular example.

The aim of the study is to develop a better understanding of what makes co-production possible, how it works and what value it produces.

Links currently unavailable

Related publications:

Examining networked NGO services: Reconceptualising value co-creation (2018) International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 38:7. 2018, Bernadette Best, Sandra Moffett, Claire Hannibal, Rodney McAdam

Keywords: value co-creation, service-user involvement, collaboration, voluntary sector

Contributed by: Susanne Martikke – Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations, Claire Hannibal – Manchester Metropolitan University



Imagine: bringing together universities and communities (2013)

Imagine was a five-year project which finished in December 2017. The project brought together universities and their local communities to uncover knowledge and imagine better futures.

This piece of research consisted of interviews with both members of more than 20 community university partnerships (CUPs) to examine the key features of CUPs, identify how the partners learn from each other in CUPs, explore the extent to which universities are hostile or enabling working environments for CUP working, and understand the processes that make CUPs resilient in the longer term. The report features recommendations to those in academia and the community who are either already involved in CUPs or are interested in becoming involved, as well as to research funders.

Keywords: community university partnerships, resilience, sustainability

Research overview:

Contributed by: Susanne Martikke – Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations, Angie Hart – University of Brighton, Andrew Church – University of Brighton



Local solutions to local problems: innovation in public participation (2016-2017)

This summary report shares the findings from a trial of a ‘mini-public’ process to enable communities and public services to interact more meaningfully.

The Christie Commission set the agenda for public services – including police and fire services – to pursue wider and better community engagement. But existing UK research shows that the conventional ways in which police services tend to engage with the public has limitations; many people don’t attend community meetings, those who do attend are not fully representative of the community, and the terms of engagement are narrow and largely set by the police.

What Works Scotland worked with police, fire and council services in the North East of Scotland to experiment with a ‘mini-public’ approach – in this case a citizens’ jury – which brings together a group of people, representative of the local community, to work together to solve a problem. The topic for the citizens’ jury was a community bonfire which, due to its popularity and size, was raising safety concerns for the local police and fire service.

Keywords: citizen jury, community engagement, police, fire service, public participation

Project report: Local solutions to local problems: SIPR Annual Report 2016

Contributed by: Nick Bland, Oliver Escobar – What Works Scotland, University of Edinburgh



Mainstreaming participatory budgeting: What works in building foundations for a more participatory democracy? (2018)

December 2018

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a process that involves citizens in deciding collectively how to spend public money. This democratic innovation originated from blending two policy agendas: community empowerment and social justice. Over three decades, PB has evolved from experiences in Brazil to a global movement with thousands of processes around the world.

This policy briefing reviews how participatory budgeting (PB) has become central to advancing three policy agendas in Scotland – public service reform, community empowerment and social justice – and examines the requirements to mainstream PB including the co-production of new systems, new mindsets and ways of working.

If PB is to make a substantial difference in the lives of citizens and communities, democratic innovators across Scotland will have to overcome a range of challenges related to culture (mindsets, attitudes, ways of working), capacity, politics, legitimacy and sustainability.

What Works Scotland has highlighted several areas for improvement, including the need to increase the deliberative quality of PB processes and their focus on tackling inequalities. Realising the transformative potential of PB depends, to a great extent, on those two dimensions.

Keywords: participatory budgeting, participatory democracy, public service reform, community empowerment, social justice

Research report: What Works Scotland Policy Briefing 2018

Related publications: Participatory Budgeting in Scotland: An overview of strategic design choices and principles for effective delivery. (2015), Chris Harkins, Oliver Escobar, Glasgow Centre for Population Health, What Works Scotland 2015

Contributed by: Oliver Escobar, Beth Katz – What Works Scotland, University of Edinburgh



Developing tools for co-creation (2018-19)

Researchers at the Centre for Learning and Teaching (CfLaT) at Newcastle University have been leading innovators in the development, practice and conceptualisation of co-produced research. We are interested in this on several levels:

  • how universities can work with other organisations to make a difference to society
  • how researchers can work with young people to co-produce research
  • how organisations co-produce services
  • methods for co-production.

Keywords: co-creation tools, connections, theory of change

Poster in pdf here

Links currently unavailable

Related publications:

Making Connections: Theory and Practice of using Visual Methods to aid Participation in Research 2017

Theory of Change Guide 2017

Contributed by: Karen Laing, Jill Clark, Liz Todd – Newcastle University, CfLaT (Centre for Learning and Teaching)




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