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The problem and promise of coproduction: politics, history, and autonomy

Goodwin, Geoff ORCID: 0000-0002-5877-4717 (2020) The problem and promise of coproduction: politics, history, and autonomy. World Development, 122. 501 - 513. ISSN 0305-750X

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.06.007


Interest in coproduction has continued to grow since Elinor Ostrom introduced the concept to the development scholarship two decades ago. The idea that multiple actors often interact to coproduce public goods and services helped shift development thinking away from one-size-fits-all policy prescriptions based on free market principles to a more nuanced position that recognizes organizational and institutional diversity. However, while Ostrom's concept of coproduction provides a useful starting point to think about how states and societies interact to deliver public goods and services, it fails to capture the complexity and significance of the process. The diverse scholarship that has extended and critiqued her work has provided a fuller picture. Yet, important gaps remain. The principal aim of this article is to fill some of these gaps and expand the boundaries of coproduction research and analysis. Drawing on qualitative research on water services and management in Ecuador, it focuses on two interrelated issues that are overlooked or underdeveloped in the existing literature. The first relates to the history of coproduction. The article shows that coproduction is more deeply rooted in capitalist development than commonly believed, and historical events have a significant bearing on contemporary politics. The second concerns autonomy. The essay shows that coproduction simultaneously promotes engagement with and autonomy from the state, and that this tension generates political struggle and change. More broadly, the article casts fresh light on the politics of public goods and services in the Global South, especially on the political impact of collective social participation in the process.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2021 18:01
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2024 20:00

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