Co-creation: A New Pathway for Solving Dysfunctionalities in Governance Systems?

Date01 July 2022
Published date01 July 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Administration & Society
2022, Vol. 54(6) 1148 –1177
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00953997211055100
Co-creation: A New
Pathway for Solving
Dysfunctionalities in
Governance Systems?
Tina Øllgaard Bentzen1
Although governance systems play a crucial role in securing an accountable
public sector, they can grow overly resource demanding, cause problematic
distortion of welfare tasks and crowd out motivation among employees.
This study contributes to existing literature by conceptualizing co-creation
as a pathway for solving dysfunctionalities in governance systems and
explores the prospects of such an approach. Based on a case study of the
development of a municipal supervision system, the study outlines the
characteristics of co-creating governance systems. The results points to co-
creation as a promising, although resource demanding, pathway for finding
robust solutions to dysfunctionalities in governance systems.
cocreation, outcomes of cocreation, supervision, governance systems
Governance systems play a significant role in coordinating, managing, and
controlling public welfare tasks and therefor in many ways constitute the
backbone of an accountable public sector (du Gay, 2000; Schnedler &
1Roskilde Universitet, Sjælland, Denmark
Corresponding Author:
Tina Øllgaard Bentzen, Roskilde Universitet, Roskilde School of Governance, Universitetsvej
1, Roskilde, Sjælland 4000, Denmark.
1055100AAS0010.1177/00953997211055100Administration & SocietyBentzen
Bentzen 1149
Vadovic, 2011). While governance systems are used as a broader term in
descriptions of institutions and their design (Duit & Galaz, 2008; Teisman
et al., 2009), this study revolves around governance systems in a more nar-
row form: governance systems are defined as tools within public adminis-
tration used to align employee capabilities, resources, activities, or
performance with organizational goals, through the regulation of autonomy,
counting, that is, systems for resource management, documentation, perfor-
mance monitoring, and supervision (Edelenbos & Eshuis, 2012; Sitkin
et al., 2010; Verhoest et al., 2004).
While productive and well-functioning governance systems play a crucial
role in securing fundamental values like transparency, accountability, and
equality, dysfunctions of such governance systems are also commonplace in
public administration (Bozeman & Feeney, 2015; de Jongh, 2016; Hood &
Dixon, 2015). Well-known dysfunctions include tendencies for governance
systems to mushroom into resource-demanding, overly bureaucratic systems,
as well as problematic side effects like tunnel vision, parking, and creaming
(de Bruijn, 2002; Lipsky, 2010; Merton, 1940). Not only, are such dysfunc-
tions feared for hampering efficiency and eroding quality in welfare tasks,
but are also known for crowding out motivation among public employees.
Co-creation is increasingly explored as a strategy for solving wicked
problems, characterized by high complexity, fragmentation, and a plurality
of actors with different interests at stake (Rittel & Webber, 1973; van
Bueren et al., 2003; Weber & Khademian, 2008). Originally developed in
the private sector, the key question in co-creation was how to engage cus-
tomers in private service markets in the creation of the service they are
purchasing (Vargo & Lusch, 2004). Co-creation has later been adopted into
the public sector as an approach to develop service solutions and policies
with citizens and users (Brandsen et al., 2018; Nabatchi, 2012; Torfing,
Sørensen, & Bentzen, 2019). However, the prospect of using co-creation to
develop solutions to problems related to governance systems in the public
sector has received scare attention in the literature (Farshchian &
Thomassen, 2019; Simonofski et al., 2019). The ambition of this study is to
contribute to fill this research gap by developing a framework for studying
the prospects of using co-creation as a strategy for finding solutions to dys-
functional governance system in the public sector. Hence, the research
question guiding this study is: How can co-creation be operationalized to
address problems of dysfunctional governance systems within the public
sector and what are the outcomes of such an approach?
First, drawing on the co-creation literature (Brandsen et al., 2018; Torfing
et al., 2019a; Voorberg et al., 2015), a theoretical framework is developed
which frames dysfunctionalities of governance systems as complex, “wicked

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT