P6 Co-creation of public services using open data and social media – rhetoric, reality or something in between

Panel Chairs:
Harri Jalonen, Katri-Liis Reimann, Zsolt Bugarszki

Corresponding Chair:
Harri Jalonen, harri.jalonen@turkuamk.fi

It is argued that co-creation of public services requires continuous interaction with citizens in service design, development and delivery. This is because the ‘value’ of public services rests on its congruence with the citizens’ needs and expectations (Osborne 2018). Advances in digital technology might enable to bridge the gap between service providers and service users. Digital technologies have taken on different forms and priorities in different countries and contexts, with promises that they will increase transparency, participation and collaboration.

The Quadruple Helix and Open Innovation 2.0 initiatives, for example, rely on open data to spur innovation. Freely accessible and re-usable open data has many indicated aims: open data helps i) to innovate new services and discover new solutions to address societal challenges, ii) to achieve more efficiency gains by sharing data between different actors, and iii) to foster participation of citizens in political and social life, and iv) to increase transparency of government. Social media, on the other hand, enables governments to raise their outreach to citizens whilst empowering citizens to have their opinions heard. Based on thinking that citizens are experts of their own situation, it has been suggested that social media provides means for engaging citizens in public service innovation.

However, as many scholars have suggested, co-creation initiatives – with or without digital technology – may have negative side-effects (Brandsen et al. 2018, Lember et al. 2019). It has been warned that digital technologies might transform our societies irreversible. While digitalization has increased societal transparency, it has simultaneously introduced new black boxes that produce results that are based on the use of assumptions that are not made clear. Digital technology has empowered citizens, but it has also affected the conduct of individuals and in many ways objectivized and subordinated them.

This panel is looking for theoretical, conceptual and empirical contributions that deal with the promises and pitfalls of open data and social media in addressing the core questions (i.e. transparency, efficiency, effectiveness, legitimacy) of public management in general and value co-creation in public services in particular. The panel is dedicated both intended and unintended consequences of innovation through digital technologies.