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DEMOS-Demokratisk og effektiv styring, planlegging og forvaltning

Co-Creation: Expectations, Challenges and Coping Strategies in Norwegian Local Governments

Alternative title: Samskaping: Forventninger, utfordringer og mestrings-strategier i norske kommuner

Awarded: NOK 7.5 mill.

The project will study «co-creation» (in Norwegian «samskaping» or "samskapelse"), which refers to a type of public, private and civic interaction that aims to mobilize the resources and ideas of citizens and other relevant stakeholders in the creation of innovative public value outcomes. The project intends to analyze the spread of the notion ?co-creation? in Norwegian local governments, what it means and signifies and is expected to accomplish. The project also endeavors to explore how the idea of co-creation challenges and perhaps collide with established governance roles, organizational structures, leadership practices and forms of democracy in Norwegian local government. Finally, the project will study how local governments cope with these challenges. The concept of ?co-creation? refers to efforts to involve citizens and other stakeholders in public problem solving and value production and it has quite recently entered the Norwegian governance debate. In 2014, "Samskaping" and "samskapelse" were marginal conceptual phenomena. Five years later, this has dramatically changed as co-creation has become a frequently mentioned and, by many, a highly praised concept. Even if the mobilization of societal resources in public governance has long historical roots in the Norway, the Norwegian public sector has followed a different path after 1945, based in classical bureaucratic forms of public administration and more recently ideas about competition and managerialism. This project will explore the consequences of co-creation for modern Norwegian local government and to analyse the emerging challenges and related coping strategies that a turn towards co-creation engenders. New knowledge about these processes is a necessity in order to harvest the potential gains from co-creation without jeopardizing cherished governance ideas.

The aim of this research project is to understand what lies behind the growing interest in co-creation. The project will look at how and why the notion of co-creation emerges in national policy strategies, how it is translated into and between local governance practices, and how its local adoption is accompanied by a particular set of expectations to what co-creation can achieve. The project is particularly interested in how co-creation challenges, and perhaps even clashes with, established forms of local government, and how local public managers aim to cope with challenges, conflicts and dilemmas that emerge when co-creation is introduced in a context characterized by representative democracy, bureaucratic administration and newly added elements of performance management and market governance. The burning question is how a pragmatic use of local coping strategies enable local governments to harvest the merits and mitigate the problems of a new synthesis between existing and emerging forms of governance. The research methods applied consist of different qualitative techniques suited to answer the three research questions, focusing on expectations, challenges and coping strategies, respectively. Document studies in terms of analyses of national and local policies and reform strategies and public statements from public officials will contribute to answering what public sector actors understand by co-creation. A number of case studies of selected Norwegian municipalities is well suited for answering research question 2 and 3, focusing on challenges and coping strategies. Hence, a mapping of role dilemmas, coping strategies and efforts to adjust the institutional design of local government calls for in depth studies of processes and events.

Funding scheme:

DEMOS-Demokratisk og effektiv styring, planlegging og forvaltning