Is Co-Production Possible? Tensions and Opportunities in the Relationship Between Public Sector Practitioners and Academic Providers

John Fenwick, Janice McMillan

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Abstract

The paper explores some of the tensions and dilemmas in the relationship between public sector organisations and academic providers of training and consultancy. Developing the analysis offered by the authors at IRSPM XV, Dublin (Fenwick and McMillan, 2011) the paper considers critical factors in the relationship between client (public organisation) and contractor (higher education provider). This includes specific instances of collaboration, obtained from interviews with HE providers. These illuminate the crucial area of ‘co-production’ of knowledge and learning. It is our proposition that the rhetoric of co-production may bolster the aims of those in the organisation who seek to implement their own agendas for change, or the organisational need of academic providers to achieve their own internal goals, such as financial targets. The instrumental objectives of each party may be addressed through a language of co-production. We do not suggest that the public organisation-HEI relationship thus conceived necessarily generates negative outcomes. On the contrary, there is no doubt that tangible benefits (for both parties) may be produced by such collaborative programmes. But this is not our focus. Our aim is to illuminate the processes that are going on within this, that is, to deconstruct the meaning and practice of co-production and to identify its constituent elements and consequences at a time of unprecedented uncertainty for the public sector.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012
EventXVI Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM) - Rome, Italy
Duration: 1 Apr 2012 → …

Conference

ConferenceXVI Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM)
Period1/04/12 → …

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