Local Government Capacity and Citizen Co-production: A Review of Theory and Evidence

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Government capacity is an important topic in the study of public administration (Burgess 1975; Honadle 1981). The terms capacity, capability or ability have become a concern of government agencies because of the need to develop policies and programs (Gargan 1981). More recently failures of public programs and the increasing demands of the public have also brought attention to this important topic (Ingraham 2003; Andrews and Boyne 2010). Despite the common use of capacity, the term is not well defined in the current public administration literature. In this paper the focus is upon the implementation capacity in local government. They are largely responsible for service delivery, whereas higher levels of government are more removed and have coordination and policy development responsibilities. In this study, the researcher undertakes a comprehensive approach to investigate what is currently known about government capacity by integrating the empirical research that has been published in the past fifty years. It reviews 43 articles that rigorously discuss capacity or capacity building at the local level and 62 articles on citizen co-production. The analysis suggests that government capacity only perceived within organizations is limited. The majority of attention has been paid to management capacity particularly policy formulation capacity, leaving implementation capacity less touched. Sub-analyses reveal different dimensions of government capacity which are dominantly studied in western literature. The evidence points to an association between government capacity and citizen co-production. This paper enriches the literature by developing a new relationship of government capacity and citizen co-production at the local level.

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