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Value conflicts in co-production: governing public values in multi-actor settings

Nils Aschhoff (Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)
Rick Vogel (Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 6 June 2018

Issue publication date: 24 July 2018




Co-production with citizens brings about the challenge to orchestrate public values which might be in conflict with each other. However, little is known about what types of value tensions occur in co-production and how actors cope with them. The purpose of this paper is to address this gap.


The paper is based on three case studies of co-production in Germany. In total, 24 semi-structured interviews with public managers, citizens, and third parties were conducted.


The analysis identified three major public value tensions occurring in co-production: the inclusiveness-accountability-tension, the flexibility-accountability-tension, and the productivity-diversity-tension. Furthermore, six strategies of coping with these tensions are examined.

Research limitations/implications

As the paper is based on case studies, further research is required to explore possible other public value tensions emerging from different manifestations of co-production.


This paper bridges the fields of public values and co-production. By including perceptions of all actor groups, a more comprehensive understanding of public values in co-production and how they are in conflict is provided. A novel coping strategy is revealed, which has previously not been mentioned in the literature.



Aschhoff, N. and Vogel, R. (2018), "Value conflicts in co-production: governing public values in multi-actor settings", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 31 No. 7, pp. 775-793.



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