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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 lectures and 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).
In this course, students will not only study these topics, but also critically evaluate the existing (co-production) literature through the formulation of statements (for in-class discussion) and writing a literature review. Furthermore, in (small) groups they will study a co-production case and present the results of their independent research both in written and oral form (in a conference setting). The course will pay particular attention to the specific competences needed for public managers/employees to effectively collaborate with co-producers. The course aims to train these competences necessary to empower citizens by means of a role playing exercise. Hence, this course will cover both the analytical and practical aspects of co-production and citizen engagement.

Course 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;

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

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

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

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

  • to empower citizens as co-producers in public service delivery processes.


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

Mode of instruction

The course consists of a combination of lectures, interactive seminars, and practical exercises.

  • Lectures: 5 x 2 hours

  • Interactive seminars (including role playing exercise and in-class discussions): 2 x 2 hours

  • Mini-conference: 1 x 4 hours

  • Challenge (in which students try to tackle a real-life problem): 1 x 4 hours
    For more information, please see below (heading 'course load').

Attendance of the challenge and mini-conference is mandatory. If students do not participate in these mandatory meetings, they have to submit an additional assignment (more information on this assignment will be published via Blackboard.

Course 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 14 hours)

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

  • A challenge (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)

Assessment method

The grading of this course is based on 3 assignments:

  • 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 statements, no retake is possible.
  3. You can only pass an assignment if you complete and submit the assignment on time. Deadlines for the assignments (including deadlines for retakes) will be published on Blackboard.


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

Reading list

See the Course Manual. All materials (mainly academic articles) should be read in advance of the lecture/seminar.


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 there.


Carola van Eijk MSc.
Phone: 070-8009489