P13 Building public trust for better policy– the possibilities of co-governance with communities?

Panel corresponding and review group chair

Associate Professor Jim Rooney (Public Service Research Group, University of New South Wales, email: james.rooney@adfa.edu.au

Panel chair

Professor Deborah Blackman (Head, School of Business, UNSW Canberra and member of the Public Service Research Group), email: d.blackman@adfa.edu.au

Panel co-organisers

Professor Helen Dickinson, UNSW Canberra and member of the Public Service Research Group

Associate Professor Sharron O’Neill, UNSW Canberra and member of the Public Service Research Group

Dr Karen Gardner, UNSW Canberra and member of the Public Service Research Group

Dr Vanessa McDermott, UNSW Canberra and member of the Public Service Research Group


Increasingly wide-ranging disruptions mean that new ways of thinking and acting are needed to design and implement policies and deliver services. One approach is to create co-governance arrangements in ways that meet community expectations of government accountability and that (re)build community trust in public institutions. Variously conceptualised as co-creation, co-governance, or co-production what constitutes collaboration and community involvement, and how it enhances creating trust is still contested. A clearer understanding is needed of the key assumptions that underpin these concepts, as well as evidence that they theoretically or empirically can create a shift in outcomes. This Panel will bring together a range of speakers to debate the current field, focusing on co-governance and co-production in support of effective public sector service delivery.

This panel seeks contributions that focus on new ways of thinking/models to support both enhanced community trust and better outcomes. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • What is co-governance, what is it trying to achieve and why important?
  • Understanding different assumptions and their implications for the ability of governments, and public sector agencies, to develop and enhance community trust.
  • Is the role of co-governance to create ‘voice’ and if so for whom and why? This includes considerations such as:
    • Who / which stakeholders should be ‘in the room’ at any one time?
    • How do existing decision-makers identify which stakeholders to in/exclude and when.
    • What is the purpose of collaboration? Is it to ‘facilitate transfer of power’ or a shift to ‘include other voices’?
  • Who is community in co-governance and why does that matter?
  • What is the available evidence on the effectiveness of these arrangements?


Panel session format

Papers will be presented in a single panel session of 1.5 hours. It is anticipated that this panel will have three papers on this topic.

At the start, a short introduction of the topic and the panellists will be made by the Panel Chair. This is followed by each panellist providing a brief biography and their perspectives on the topic based on their accepted abstract in 10-15 presentations. Moderator/Chair-curated questions of the panellists will be followed by audience Q&A and a wrap-up by the Panel Chair.

The Panel will be facilitated by an experienced  “panel moderator” who guides the panellists and the audience through conversations addressing the panel questions.  These will be drawn from both paper submitters and experienced members of the IRSPM community, including other members of the UNSW Canberra Public Service Research Group.

The panellists will be selected based on submitted and accepted extended abstracts. Four selected panellists will summarise their extended abstract, offer opinions, and respond to questions either through questions curated by the moderator or taken from the audience directly. The panel session duration will confirm with IRSPM scheduling.


Preparing your abstract

Abstracts are due by date announced on the IRSPM 2023 Conference Call for Abstract webpage and must be submitted through the ExOrdo system. Email submissions will not be accepted.

Abstracts should be 300-500 words. In addition to the abstract text, please:

  • Explain how the proposed presentation relates to the panel topic description above. It will also need to engage with the 2023 IRSPM Conference invitation to examine the question on “… how do contextual factors influence the dynamics of fundamental value conflicts affecting public governance?” in a manner that is relevant to IRSPM participants.
  • Provide a list of key references
  • Advise whether you will submit a full paper (preferred) or if this is a work in progress seeking feedback, or other form of presentation.
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