New article by Geoff Goodwin explores history and impact of coproduction

28 June, 2019

A new article by ODID Departmental Lecturer Geoff Goodwin explores the history and impact of coproduction, drawing on qualitative research on water in Ecuador.

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. Dr Geoff Goodwin’s article, ‘The Problem and Promise of Coproduction’, fills some of these gaps and expands the boundaries of coproduction research and analysis.

Goodwin draws on qualitative research on water services and management in Ecuador: he 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 issue the author focuses on is autonomy. The article shows that coproduction simultaneously promotes engagement with and autonomy from the state, and that this tension generates political struggle and change.

Goodwin’s research has found that coproduction is more deeply rooted in capitalist development than commonly believed, and that coproduction not only produces public goods and services, but also new political subjects, relations and institutions. The form of contributions to coproduction has also been found to have a significant bearing on the politics of the process.

‘The Problem and Promise of Coproduction’ 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.

Geoff is a political economist who works within an interdisciplinary framework, drawing principally on economics, sociology, anthropology and history.

Geoff Goodwin (2019) ‘The problem and promise of coproduction: Politics, history, and autonomy’, World Development.