Co-Creation in Urban Governance: From Inclusion to Innovation


  • Dorthe Hedensted Lund Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen



Co-creation, Participation, Democracy


This article sets out to establish what we mean by the recent buzzword ‘co-creation’ and what practical application this concept entails for democracy in urban governance, both in theory and practice. The rise of the concept points to a shift in how public participation is understood. Whereas from the 1970s onwards the discussions surrounding participation centred on rights and power, following Sherry Arnstein, participation conceptualised as co-creation instead focuses on including diverse forms of knowledge in urban processes in order to create innovative solutions to complex problems. Consequently, democratic legitimacy now relies to a much greater extent on output, rather than input legitimacy. Rather than provision of inclusive spaces for democratic debate and empowerment of the deprived, which have been the goals of numerous urban participatory efforts in the past, it is the ability to solve complex problems that has become the main criterion for the eval- uation of co-creation. Furthermore, conceptualising participation as co-creation has con- sequences for the roles available to both citizens and public administrators in urban pro- cesses, which has implications for urban governance. An explicit debate, both in academ- ia and in practice, about the normative content and implications of conceptualising partic- ipation as co-creation is therefore salient and necessary.


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Author Biography

Dorthe Hedensted Lund, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen

Dorthe Hedensted Lund, PhD, is senior researcher at the Section for Landscape Architecture and Planning, Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen. Her research mainly focuseson how network governance and collaborative spatial planning can support sustainable development both in urban and rural settings. She has in particular focused on the involvement of private actors in public governance through governance networks and public-private partnerships, including institutional and normative barriers for these types of governance and the roles of citizens.




How to Cite

Hedensted Lund, D. (2018). Co-Creation in Urban Governance: From Inclusion to Innovation. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, 22(2), 3–17.



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