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Coproduction as a structural transformation of the public sector

Albert Meijer (Utrecht University School of Governance, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 8 August 2016




Coproduction fundamentally changes the roles of citizens and governments. The purpose of this paper is to enhance the theoretical understanding of the transformative changes in the structural order of the public domain that result from the coproduction of public services.


This paper builds upon both the literature on coproduction of public services, new public governance and on social contracts between citizens and the state to identify the nature, drivers and implications of the transformation. The argument is illustrated with examples from crime control and healthcare.


The analysis identified an institutional misfit and highlights four key issues that are key to the understanding of the structural transformation of public services: compensation for time and knowledge resources, responses to new forms of (in)equality, risk of conflicts between citizens and re-organizing accountability.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis highlights the need for further research into the implications of coproduction for government legitimacy, transfer of power, financial implications, representativeness and consequences for non-coproducing citizens.


This paper links instrumental debates about the coproduction of public services to fundamental debates about the relations between government and citizens and identifies substantial issues that are raised by this structural transformation in the public domain and that require new responses.



Meijer, A. (2016), "Coproduction as a structural transformation of the public sector", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 29 No. 6, pp. 596-611.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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