Co-production and the third sector: a comparative study of England and France

My thesis explores co-production between citizens and third sector professionals (in community regeneration, parents’ organisations, and older people’s services) in Sheffield, England and Lyon, France. I employ an analytical framework of institutional logics to explore how the rules, practices and narratives of the organisations are specific to their contexts and how these shape co-production practices. The study finds that while the Sheffield organisations are characterised by an assimilation of the state, community and market logics, the Lyon organisations demonstrate a blend of a ‘Napoleonic state’ logic, and a ‘local solidarity’ logic.

These combinations of logics illuminate two approaches to co-production. In France, co-production is informed by notions of citizenship, solidarity and participative democracy, leading to a greater focus on citizen involvement in organisational governance and influence of rules as an enabler and constraint to co-production. In Sheffield, co-production is seen as a way to improve communities, services and outcomes, and we therefore see more pragmatic attention to co-design and co-delivery activities. This thesis provides an important contribution to co-production theory and practice, by employing institutional theory to demonstrate some of the cultural and contextual subjectivity of co-production, and producing evidence of meso and macro level factors that influence co-production behaviour.