Co-production of welfare services: education and social assistance policy in Poland after 1989

The scientific aim of the project is to investigate the roles played by citizens and third sector organisations in social policy in Poland after 1989. The intended aim will be achieved by means of a careful investigation of two sectoral public policies, such as education and social assistance. The project examines the importance of citizens and third sector organisations in the dual dimensions of public policy in terms of their formulation and implementation. Sectoral public policies have been chosen on the basis of the literature overview which revealed that education and assistance for people with mental disabilities are two most often examined domains in terms of co-production settings.

The theoretical framework of the project is based on the concept of co-production (Pestoff & Brandsen 2006, Pestoff 2009, 2012), which can be briefly understood as citizens involvement into the design and delivery of public service.

The main reason for implementing the proposed project is the need for a new quality in the analyses of the roles played by citizens and relationships between third sector organisation and public administration in the two sectoral public policies. Regarding inter-organisational relations, they have been dominated in Poland by the concept of “collaboration” introduced by the Act of 24 April 2003 on Public Benefit and Volunteer Work. Adopting co-production settings enables to go beyond what has been described in the Act financial and non-financial analysis, and investigate various types of inter-organisational relations exist between third sector organisations and public administration to design and deliver education and social assistance services.

Similar limited analysis concern micro level, i.e. citizens involved in public service delivery. In Poland citizens role is investigated through the lens of participation (e.g. OLech, 2012) and thus does not capture the real power distribution between service users and public service organisations. Employing co-production settings enable to address this kind of gap. Co-production  in micro level is analysed in this study in relation to primary schools. It is commonly known that parents and teachers are those who contribute the most to the education development and shape education services at schools(e.g. Porter, 2012; Jakobsen, 2013; Honigh, Bondarouk i Brandsen, 2018). Thus these two service user groups will be investigated.

The project adds to the existing co-production research in various ways, including broadening poor Polish analyses on co-production by empirical context (the existing ones focus on theoretical backgrounds), and addressing the gaps identified in the literature by inter alia Pestoff (2012) and Suslova (2019).

The project is financed by National Science Centre Poland (2015/19/D/HS5/00514)