Co-production Between Associations and Public Institutions at the Local Level in Denmark

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPaperForskning


In many countries, there are political efforts to change the relationship between the public and the voluntary sector (OECD 2011). The dominant relationship has so far been public support for associations and non-profit institutions own purposes. In the research literature this type of co-operation is called ‘associative democracy’ (Hirst 1994; Vader 2001). Denmark has especially been given this designation (Kaspersen & Ottesen 2001). However, in these years there is an increasing interest in closer co-operation between the public and the voluntary sector, involving associations as well as volunteers in public institutions' purposes and activities. In the literature this type of cooperation is called ‘co-production and co-creation’ (see, inter alia, Brandsen & Pestoff 2006, 2008, Bovaird & Löffler 2009, Pestoff 2010, Brandsen & Honingh 2015). However, our knowledge is limited regarding the extent and development of this trend; how a closer cooperation is legitimized, and how co-production between the public and the voluntary sector works? Does it meet the big and ideal expectations for co-production? And in which areas of the public sector and the voluntary sector does cooperation works, and what can explain that? These are the main questions in a major research project in Denmark, which is carried out from 2015 to 2018. The research project includes a) a discourse analysis of how co-production is justified, b) a quantitative study of municipal institutions' cooperation with associations and volunteers and their attitude to co-production, c) a quantitative study of associations' cooperation with municipal institutions and their attitude to co-production as well d) and twenty very different qualitative case studies of co-operation (during two years) in different areas of society. The research project is conducted in five different municipalities in Denmark (big urban municipalities as well as smaller and more rural municipalities). In the literature we find two main arguments for co-production. The first argument is that it promotes better and more effective solutions to societal problems and especially the so-called 'wicked problems' (Harmon and Mayers 1986). The second argument is that it strengthens democracy by involving citizens more closely in the solution of various public / collective tasks. In this panel we present and discuss four papers – all with a focus on different aspects of the democratic justification for closer cooperation between the voluntary and the municipal sector.
StatusUdgivet - 2018
BegivenhedISTR 13th International Conference: Democracy and Legitimacy: The Role of the Third Sector in a Globalizing World - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Holland
Varighed: 10. jul. 201813. jul. 2018


KonferenceISTR 13th International Conference
LokationVrije Universiteit Amsterdam

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