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Co-production and Citizen Engagement: Challenges, Opportunities and Threats*


Admission requirements

Only students of the MSc Public Administration can take this course.


The financial crisis, austerity in public finances, and a legitimacy crisis of both the public sector and the market. World-wide, governments are confronted with many challenges. Governments have to produce more and better services, but also at lower costs. At the same time, citizens are demanding an opportunity to comment on the way in which decisions on public services are made and on how to improve the quality of the services delivered. One of the solutions that is introduced to tackle all these challenges, is co-production. By involving citizens, clients, third sector organizations, or other (nonprofit) actors in the service delivery process, the argument is made that governments are able to produce more in a more efficient and effective way. The argument is also made that the delivery process is more legitimate. But do these arguments hold true? And what is the other side of the coin?

This course has the aim of providing insight in the opportunities, threats, and challenges co-production brings for both the social actors involved and the public organizations that collaborate with the co-producers. The course will start by discussing the rise of the concept, positing it against general theoretical approaches like New Public Management and New Public Governance. During the interactive seminars, a special focus is put upon the co-producers and regular producers involved; e.g. the different types of co-producers involved, motivations to co-produce, and the consequences for public organizations. We will discuss how ICT (e.g. social media and open data) can enable co-production activities. We will both discuss the more theoretical side of this (i.e. the concept of ‘open government’) and analyze some best practices. Finally, we will compare different co-producing activities among policy sectors and countries, and discuss the use of different research methods. Within a conference setting, students will present the results of an independent research; prof. dr. Tony Bovaird (University of Birmingham) will attend this seminar meeting.

Learning objectives

After this course, students are able to:

  1. understand and reflect on the main theories in the field of public administration on the origins, functioning, and effects of co-production and citizen engagement;
    1. understand and reflect on the implications of co-production and ICT-enabled co-production (i.e. open government using tools as social media and open data) for the management of public service delivery;
    2. conduct an independent empirical research in collaboration with other students on a co-production process;
    3. derive and present the theoretical and practical implications of the studied co-production design both in written and oral form;
    4. formulate critical statements on the development of co-production and citizen engagement, and to reflect on arguments of other students.



Methods of instruction

This course consists of a combination of lectures, class discussions, and practical exercises.

Study load

  • Total study load: 140 hrs.

  • Contact hours: 21 hrs (7 weeks x 3 hrs per week)

  • Self-study hours: 119 hrs

Method of assessment

Students need to pass the following assignments in order to pass the course.

  • Weekly statement for in-class discussion (10%)

  • Research report (40%) (including in-class presentation)

  • Literature review (50%)
    Both the research report and the literature review should be passed (grade of 5.5 or higher) in order to pass the course. You will only get a grade if you completed all assignments on time.

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website, uSis and Blackboard.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have taken the first sit and have a mark lower than 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit written exam
Students that want to take part in a resit for a written exam, are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the ‘timetable exams’.


Blackboard available at the end of August 2015.

Other course materials/literature

Tba; see the Course Description on Blackboard.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.
Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.


Contact information
Carola van Eijk MSc.
Phone : 070-8009489