Introduction

We work in the UK and Europe on innovation in public service reform. We are particularly in interested in social innovation, the process whereby new solutions are created that simultaneously address pressing social needs and lead to new or improved capabilities and relationships. Thus, social innovations are innovations that use social means to achieve social ends.

In our research on social innovation and public service reform we have explored the role of co-production and co-creation in the design of services. These are approaches where people help design and deliver the services they use. This in turn has led us to research and evaluate asset or strengths-based approaches in which public services move from deficit-based models of service delivery to models that build on people’s strengths, working with them as experts in their own lives and asking what matters to them rather than what’s the matter with them.

Our approach is multi-disciplinary and we bring together researchers from a number of disciplines including sociology, business studies and economics.

Areas of work include:

  • Co-production and co-creation. We are part of a European-wide consortium that has undertaken several projects on public service reform with a particular focus on the co-creation of public services. We are also working on new approaches to evaluating co-produced and co-created services in social care and exploring the potential to apply co-production principles in other areas of the public sector, such as criminal justice.
  • Innovation in commissioning. We are interested in new and innovative approaches to commissioning public services. Over recent years we have been particularly interested in outcomes-based commissioning and payment by results, including Social Imact Bonds.
  • Strengths-based and relational models of service delivery. In a number of research projects we have explored strengths-based approaches to delivering services in different sectors including social care, housing and criminal justice.