The co-creation methodology enables active participation by citizens as designers and implementors through the self-organizing process of democratic decision-making, ideally including those who have been traditionally excluded.

Problems and Purpose

According to Dorthe Hedensted Lund, recent shifts in the understanding and practice of participatory urban governance have given way to a new understanding of social innovation, namely, 'co-creation'. By itself, participation can (and is) often equated with mere consultation. However, according to Lund, "participation becomes co-creation, whereby public institutions enable citizens to actively engage themselves in social policymaking and service provision, and it becomes as much about harnessing resources as about empowering the deprived." To be considered 'real', project managers, citizens, and stakeholders are increasingly demanding "self-organising civic engagement."[1] This definition of co-creation is, however, an ideal and is not representative of all cases of participatory governance claiming to be such. Ideally, co-creation involves participants as designers and implementors (if not also the initiators).[2] 

Processes using co-creation as their guiding standard go beyond 'mere participation' or 'participation for participation's sake'. As participatory forms of governance become more common — especially in urban design and resource management — involved parties have come to embrace the definition of participation as co-creation: a process which seeks to build capacity, encourage active participation in decision-making and implementation, and include (meaningfully) those individuals disadvantaged by physical- or social-barriers.[1] 

Origins and Development

Participant Recruitment and Selection

How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making

According to Lund, public innovation literature uses co-creation to refer to those processes which include citizens in one or more of the following roles: co-designer, co-implementer, and/or co-initiator. Ideally, citizens would take on both the role of co-designer and co-implementer with an eye to building the capacity for taking on the role of co-initiator, ie. "self-organising and take the initiative to address a perceived problem, [followed by] collaborat[ion] with public authorities."[2] Processes of co-creation thus vary on two dimensions: when citizens participate and how active they are (or are allowed to be). 

For example, the Government of Canada defines co-creation as "a form of open policy making where those implicated by the outcome are directly involved in its creation."[3] From this description, one might assume citizens are only given the role of co-designers; however, at least in the 2017 development of the Plant and Animal Health Strategy, the process of co-creation appears to indicate 'co-delivery' (ie. co-implementation) is the natural next-step. 

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Analysis and Lessons Learned

See Also


[1] Dorthe Hedensted Lund, "Co-creation in Urban Governance: From Inclusion to Innovation." Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration 22, no. 2 (2017): 29-29.

[2] Dorthe Hedensted Lund, "Co-creation in Urban Governance: From Inclusion to Innovation.", 33. 

[3] "Co-creation and open policy making," Government of Canada, October 5, 2017.

External Links

Living Labbing the Rotterdam Way: Co-Creation as an Enabler for Urban Innovation

Achieving Research Impact Through Co‐creation in Community‐Based Health Services: Literature Review and Case Study

Urban Transition Labs: co-creating transformative action for sustainable cities

Urban Living Labs and the Role of Users in Co-Creation 

GoNano Project - Toolkits for Co-Creation

Big Picnic - Co-Creation

Co-Creation: Designing With the User, For the User