The theme of the IRSPM 2018 conference was creating and co-creating value in public service delivery. One of the key debates in the public management community is about the 'value' that is created by public services. This debate has included elements concerning, among others:
- What this value comprises and for whom (services users, citizens, or the community)
- How is it understood by different stakeholders
- The balance and potential conflicts both between individual and public value and between the values underpinning public services and the value that they add to citizens and society
- The processes through which it is designed into public service systems, and organizations
- How it might be evaluated.
Several schools of thought have been developed to pose frameworks for these debates (such as Mark Moore and 'public value', Gerry Stoker and 'public value management', and Stephen Osborne and 'public service dominant theory'). Several journals, such as Public Management Review and Strategic Management Journal are commissioning special issues to explore precisely this issue. We are now at the point where a clear articulation of value in public service delivery is required, as well as the processes through which it can be created (and destroyed) in public service delivery. This is likely to be the cornerstone of the development both of public management theory and of public service delivery as the twenty-first century progresses.