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Consumers as Coproducers of Public Services: Some Economic and Institutional Considerations

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Parks, Roger B.; Baker, Paula C.; Kiser, Larry L.; Oakerson, Ronald J.; Ostrom, Elinor; Ostrom, Vincent; Whitaker, Gordon P.; Wilson, Rick K.
Date: 1980
Agency: Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN and The Center for Urban and Regional Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3929
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): Workshop
public service
Abstract: From p. 1-2: "In recent years, attention to the productive activities of consumers has increased. This attention is most common for service production (Fuchs, 1968; and Gam, et al., 1976). Garn and his colleagues argue that when services are produced, 'the person being served (the client or consumer) is inevitably part of the production process, if there is to be any production whatsoever. Therefore, the resources, motivations, and skills brought to bear by the client or consumer are much more intimately connected with the level of achieved output than in the case of goods production. The output is always a jointly produced output (1976:14-15).' "The role of consumers in producing public services has received particular attention. Partly in response to fiscal pressures and partly due to evidence regarding the inefficacy of their own unaided efforts, some public producers are increasing consumer involvement in service production (e.g., community anticrime efforts such as Neighborhood Watch or solid waste collection agencies' replacement of backyard with curbside trash pickup). In other service areas, consumers are demanding an increased role (e.g., parents and students working with groups like PUSH FOR EXCELLENCE to improve educational services or the Wellness movement among health service consumers). Most analysts of public service delivery, however, have focused on the efforts of organized bureaus and firms, ignoring consumer inputs or assigning them only an insignificant, supplementary role. This focus by analysts is generally shared by public administrators and other actors. However, the productive role of consumers as coproducers of the services they receive has been a continuing interest for us. (See, for instance, Kiser and Percy, 1980; Ostrom and Ostrom, 1978; Percy, 1978; and Whitaker, 1980.)"

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