The Promise of Co-Design for Public Policy

Authored by: Emma Blomkamp

Routledge Handbook of Policy Design

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9780815369189
eBook ISBN: 9781351252928
Adobe ISBN:


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As a novel method for creatively engaging citizens and stakeholders to find solutions to complex problems, co-design holds great promise for policymakers. It has been vaunted as a way to generate more innovative ideas, ensure policies and services match the needs of citizens, achieve economic efficiencies by improving responsiveness, foster cooperation and trust between different groups, meaningfully engage the ‘hard to reach’ and achieve support for change. This chapter considers how we might determine whether co-design has real potential to dramatically improve policy processes and outcomes. Drawing on relevant literature on participatory design, design thinking and public-sector innovation, this review explores the meaning and potential of co-design in the context of public policy. It highlights the philosophical underpinnings and normative implications of participatory design and questions the feasibility of achieving the promised outcomes in the challenging context of contemporary policymaking.

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