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Co-production and Citizen Engagement


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 opportunities 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 central aim of providing insights 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, special focus is put upon the (assumed) effects of co-production (e.g., efficiency, effectiveness, democracy), the co-producers and regular producers involved (e.g., different types of co-producers involved, motivations to co-produce), and the consequences for public organizations (e.g., design, ict-tools). 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.

Learning objectives

After this course, students are able to:

  • 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

  • Reflect on the implications of co-production and citizen engagement for the management of public service delivery

  • Conduct an independent empirical research in collaboration with other students on a co-production process

  • Derive and present the theoretical and practical implications of the studied co-production design both in written and oral form

  • Formulate and discuss critical statements on the development of co-production and citizen engagement, and to reflect on arguments of other students


On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Methods of instruction

This course consists of a combination of lectures, class discussions, and practical exercises. For more information, please see below (heading ‘course load’).

Study load

The total course load for this course is 140 hours (5 EC x 28 hours). These hours are (approximately) spent on:

  • Attending lectures and seminars (together 3 hours per week x 6 weeks = 18 hours)

  • A mini-conference (including student presentations) (4 hours)

  • Fieldwork: 3 interviews with co-producers/regular producers in preparation of group-assignment (15 hours)

  • Self-study (e.g., time for studying the compulsory literature, time for completing assignments) (103 hours)

Method of assessment

The grading of this course is based on 3 assignments:

  • Weekly submitted statements as preparation for in-class discussion (individual assignment): counting 10% of the final grade;

  • A literature review (individual assignment): counting 50% of the final grade;

  • An independently conducted empirical research (group assignment): counting 40% of the final grade. This assignment consists of 2 parts that are taken together in the grade: 1) a written report (60%), and 2) an oral presentation (40%).

To complete the final grade, please take notice of the following:

  • Both the group assignment (final grade based on report and presentation) and the individual literature review should be passed (grade of 5.5 or higher) in order to pass the course.

  • For the individual literature review a retake is possible. For the group assignment, only a retake is possible for the written report (not for the oral presentation). For the weekly statements, no retake is possible.

  • Deadlines for the assignments (including deadlines for the retakes) will be published on Blackboard.

  • 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 will be available at the end of August 2015. A specified course description (including information about the assignments, deadlines, and course readings) will be published at Blackboard.

Reading list

See the Course Desciption on Blackboard. All materials (mainly academic articles) should be read in advance of the seminar meeting.


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.


Carola van Eijk MSc.
Phone: (070)8009489

Dr. Trui Steen