Co-Creation in Urban Governance: From Inclusion to Innovation

Dorthe Hedensted Lund


Co-creation is one of the mayor buzzwords lately in urban governance and participation both in theory and practice. The research question in this paper is to establish what exactly we mean by the concept and what its practical application entails for democracy in urban governance. The papaer reviews the scholarly literature on co-creation in order to establich how co-creation has been and can be conceptualized in urban governance. The rise of the concept of co-creation signifies a shift in how public participation is understood. Where participation following Arnstein in the 70s and forward was about rights and power, participation conceptualized as co-creation is rather about including relevant and sufficiently diverse knowledge in urban processes to create innovative solutions to complex problems. Consequently, democratic legitimacy to a much larger extent relies on output rather than input legitimacy. It is the ability to solve complex problems that becomes the evaluation criteria of co-creation rather than the provision of inclusive spaces of democratic debate and the empowerment of the deprived, which has been the goal of many urban participatory efforts in the past. Furthermore, conceptualizing participation as co-creation has consequences for the roles available for both citizens and public administrators in public processes. The papaer discusses the implications of this for urban governance and concludes that an explicit debate both in academia and in practice of the normative content of conceptualizing participation as co-creation is both salient and necessary

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413