Public Value Co-Creation

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A Multi-Actor & Multi-Sector Perspective



Table of contents

(9 chapters)

This chapter provides a conceptual backdrop to the book describing the origins of public value theory and its evolution towards a multi-actor theory of public value co-creation. It places the theory within the public governance paradigm which is characterized by a collaborative logic underpinning the pursuit of public value. The chapter defines cross-sectoral partnerships and network management as some of the key operational constructs to implement public value co-creation. It also focuses briefly on the role of collaborative innovation as the practices aimed at co-creating new products/services and/or solutions through collaboration. Finally, it discusses the role of public value co-creation in turbulent times.


This chapter argues that a structural change is occurring in the relationships among the State and the society, opening up new opportunities for co-creating public value. In particular, four alternative patterns are proposed: resistance (no change); outsourcing; layering; strategic reconnection. The strategic reconnection alternative is the one grounded on public value co-creation as a new paradigm for public management and as a new ethos for public managers. The chapter highlights how several strategic management schools (Ferlie & Ongaro, 2015) may inform the design and the management of processes of public value co-creation. Finally, it highlights the role of civicness as a principle of democratic governance, as a philosophical premise for human agency towards public value co-creation and as the seed animating what it is defined in the chapter as the ‘public value society’.


This chapter investigates public value co-creation by researching how people make experience of public value creation across sectors and from a place perspective. The study draws on a qualitative thematic analysis conducted on a crowdsourced dataset of more than 1,000 case examples of place leadership provided across three years (2017–2019) by a sample of students. The results identify 21 themes (ways of co-creating public value from four realms of place-based leadership – political, community, managerial and business). We contribute to public value co-creation by better understanding what are (or might be) the contributions and the rewards to engage public, private non-profit and citizens in processes of co-creation within collaborative governance.


Three main challenges for public management are identified in this chapter: achieving higher efficiency in the internal operations; building and managing public networks for improving the effectiveness of policy making and service delivery; engaging mini-publics to co-create public outcomes and public values. The chapter highlights that these challenges happen in different domains: within the public organization; across public networks at the inter-organizational level; within open governance arenas, platforms and ecosystems in the civic/community domain. For each domain some key actors with whom engage in processes of public value co-creation are illustrated. The result is a conceptual map for public managers to better understand the nature of modern public management and to design processes of public value co-creation.

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