Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Co-delivery sir? Certainly, which kind would you like? The other day I posted a note about co-delivery, making an aside about policing. Soon afterwards, looking for something else of course, I came across this short 2009 paper by Tony Bovaird and Elke Loeffler, on 'user and community co-production of public services', published by the Third Sector Research Centre. They report survey and focus group research in five European countries, looking at the (co-)production of community safety, the local environment, and public health. The ranking is revealing: crime reporting, and most aspects of crime prevention, clearly rank lowest, even though the top indicator is 'take care to lock doors and windows'. Bovaird and Loeffler conclude that people are most willing to make a contribution to public services 'when it involves them in relatively little effort and when they do not have to work closely with other citizens or staff or professionals in the government.' Reassuringly, the researchers do not see this as beyond the influence of policy: 'the behaviour of citizens is more likely to give rise to individual co-production, unless encouragement is given to mechanisms which lead to more collective co-production. The research has suggested the possibility that third sector intermediaries and that internet-enabled technologies are likely to fulfil the requirements which make collective co-production easier and more likely.' (Emphasis added) That last sentence combines two long-held concerns of mine - the first (third sector intermediaries) being a community development credo and obviously encompassing street reps, for example; the second being precisely the argument that Hugh Flouch and I have been making about neighbourhood online networks. We're hoping that we can confirm it convincingly in our current research.

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