Call for Papers, 2018 Conference: Stellenbosch, 22-23 May - IIAS-IISA - International Institute of Administrative Sciences - Institut international des Sciences administratives

The IIAS Study Group on ‘Coproduction of Public Services’ is organizing its sixth annual conference. Our aim is to create and nurture an intellectual platform for the theoretical discussion and empirical analysis of coproduction and its implications for the organization and management of public services.

The Study Group on Coproduction of Public Services

Earlier meetings organized by the study group established a small-scale, active, and sustainable network of scholars and practitioners focused on the coproduction of public services. The study group provides a forum to discuss challenging research on innovations in public service delivery that include citizen co-production. The study group has collaborated intensively to publish special issues in international public administration journals and a comprehensive book on co-production in a comparative international context will be published in 2018. The study group aims to further enable close intercontinental collaboration among coproduction scholars, including establishing joint research programs and developing a shared database of international case studies and survey data on coproduction.

Conference Topics

Coproduction refers to the involvement of both citizens and public-sector professionals in the delivery of public services. Although countries differ in the extent to which citizens play a role in the provision of public services, the practice of coproduction is gaining ground around the world.

The overarching goal of this study group meeting is to advance our conceptual, theoretical, and empirical understanding of coproduction. To that end, we are particularly interested in papers that tackle the complexity of coproduction in terms of frameworks for analysis, applications of relevant theory, and empirical study.  We hope that through our work we can also contribute to an increased understanding in practice of co-production.

During the 2017 Co-production Study Group meeting in Washington D.C., some ideas were discussed about topics that should be addressed during the next meeting which will be held in Stellenbosch in May 2018.  Based on these discussions, it is proposed that the overall theme of next year’s meeting is:

The What, Who, Where, Why, and How of Co-Production in an International Context

It is thus proposed to have five themes and we invite participants to submit papers on any of those themes.  Although we want to explore the what, who, where, why, and how of co-production, we realize that these elements are inter-linked and would expect papers to discuss more than one:

  1. The nature of co-production (WHAT):
      • What is the nature of co-production? For example, is it different from consultation, co-decision making, or collaboration?
      • How do differences in citizen participation in different service sectors impact our understanding of co-production?
      • What are the different types of inputs that can be provided by citizens and professionals?
      • What are the differences between co-production and co-creation, (inter-organizational) collaboration, and social innovation?
  1. Actors (WHO):
    • To what extent can individuals and/or organizations take part in co-production?
    • What are the actors and their roles in co-production? For example, are volunteers and service users the same type of co-producers?
    • Should the parties participating in the co-production of public services belong to the same or different organizations?
    • To what extent can volunteers, social enterprises and for-profit firms perform the role of the citizen co-producer (participants) in co-production?
  1. Contexts and Sectors (WHERE):
    • To what extent do contexts (geographical, cultural, political, economic, administrative, social, etc.) frame, shape and form our understanding and practice of co-production?
    • To what extent do academic disciplines (business administration, economics, political science, law, policy studies, public administration and management, sociology, and third sector studies) frame, shape and form our understanding and practice of co-production?
    • To what extent do different policy areas (e.g. education, health, housing, crime, social care, economic development, social inclusion, (smart) urban services, etc.) frame, shape and form our understanding and practice of co-production?
    • To what extent do different structures (e.g. institutional – public or non-profit agencies -, political – political parties or social movements -, social – place, family, friendship/group -, etc.) frame, shape and form our understanding and practice of co-production? 
  1. Drivers, motivations and outcomes (WHY):
    • What are the main reasons (political, economic, social, environmental, cultural, etc.) – for example, austerity or community empowerment – that promote the concept and the practice of co-production?
    • What are the drivers (e.g. quality standards, availability of resources and capabilities, etc.) and systems (e.g. performance management systems) that promote the concept and the practice of co-production?
    • What are the desired outcomes (societal, (inter) organizational, group, individual) that promote the concept and the practice of co-production? What are the actual outcomes (societal, (inter) organizational, group, individual) that promote the concept and the practice of co-production? 
  1. Processes and interactions (HOW)
    • How do actors from different sectors or organizations interact and behave in the process of co-production? Who is in charge and in the lead of co-production?
    • What elements (e.g. core, essential or complementary) and at what stage (e.g. commission, design, delivery, assessment) of the services is co-production occurring?
    • What are the styles (e.g. hierarchical, collaborative, coercive, delegating, abdicating, etc.) the professionals use in the interaction with co-producers?

While these and other questions can be addressed, we encourage all participants to think critically about how their research advances our conceptual, theoretical, and empirical understanding of coproduction.

The goal of the study group is to advance the theory, research, and practice of coproduction and to foster intercontinental collaboration. Therefore, we invite scholars from around the world to submit abstracts for conceptual, theoretical, or empirical papers on all topics addressed above. Studies that use innovative qualitative or quantitative methodological approaches are of particular interest. We also welcome a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches. Submissions are particularly encouraged from doctoral students working on the topic of coproduction.

Meeting Format

The meeting will consist of individual paper presentations. Full papers will be made available to all participants in advance of the meeting to deepen the discussion. The meeting will conclude with a roundtable conversation about the study group’s plans for intercontinental collaboration in coproduction research.

Date and Location

The meeting of the Study Group on Coproduction of Public Services will take place at the STIAS, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch from 22 – 23 May 2018.  It will be preceded by a one-day workshop for practitioners on Monday 21 May 2018 which will take place at the School of Public Leadership, Bellville Park Campus, Stellenbosch University.


The registration fee is euro 130. Participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodations.

The registration details and information on accommodations will be available soon.


Please submit abstracts (maximum 600 words) by 15 February 2018 to Dirk Brand ([email protected]), Tina Nabatchi ([email protected]) and Trui Steen ([email protected]).  Participants will be notified of acceptance by 15 March 2018.

Full papers should be submitted by 1 May 2018.

For questions about the conference, please contact Dirk Brand ([email protected]) or Natalie Seifert ([email protected]).


The IIAS study group on ‘Coproduction of Public Services’ is co-chaired by Trui Steen (KU Leuven, Belgium), Tina Nabatchi (Syracuse University, United States) and Dirk Brand (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa). 

The 2018 conference is organised by Dirk Brand (University of Stellenbosch) and Natalie Seifert ([email protected]).

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