Reaping the fruits of co-creation through design experiments

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Co-creation has received a growing attention in the public sector as a tool for mobilizing resources, spurring public innovation, and enhancing democratic legitimacy. Reaping the fruits of co-creation largely depends on the attempts made by local leaders to facilitate effective collaboration, overcome emerging problems and obstacles, and cope with the emerging dilemmas and paradoxes. There is limited knowledge about how this is done in practice. Hence, public administration researchers must team up with local leaders of co-creation to jointly test different ways of improving the processes and results of co-creation processes. This endeavour calls for an interactive research strategy where researchers and practitioners work together to conduct design experiments aimed at improving the design of a process by iteratively diagnosing problems and obstacles that prevent goal achievement, seeking to remove the hindrances through targeted interventions, and finally measuring the impact of the interventions vis-à-vis the stated goals. This article serves the dual purpose of producing new context-dependent insights into how leaders of co-creation can tackle emerging problems and obstacles and evaluating the use of design experiments in the field of public administration. It analyses and compares six design experiments conducted in relation to local cases of co-creation that are studied using mixed methods. The main finding is that: (1) the problems emerging in co-creation processes are for the most part manageable; (2) the leadership interventions are relatively undemanding; and (3) the positive impact of most of the interventions finds support in the extant research literature.
TidsskriftPublic Policy and Administration
Vol/bindOnline first
Antal sider25
StatusUdgivet - 2023


  • Co-creation
  • design experiments
  • interactive research
  • leadership
  • local public administration

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