Leading co-production in five UK collaborative research partnerships (2008-2018): responses to four tensions from senior leaders using auto-ethnography

Van der Graaf, Peter, Kislov, Roman, Smith, Helen, Langley, Joe, Hamer, Natalie, Cheetham, Mandy, Wolstenholme, Daniel, Cooke, Jo and Mawson, Sue (2023) Leading co-production in five UK collaborative research partnerships (2008-2018): responses to four tensions from senior leaders using auto-ethnography. Implementation Science Communications, 4 (1). p. 12. ISSN 2662-2211

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1186/s43058-022-00385-0


BackgroundDespite growing enthusiasm for co-production in healthcare services and research, research on co-production practices is lacking. Multiple frameworks, guidelines and principles are available but little empirical research is conducted on ‘how to do’ co-production of research to improve healthcare services. This paper brings together insights from UK-based collaborative research partnerships on leading co-production. Its aim is to inform practical guidance for new partnerships planning to facilitate the co-production of applied health research in the future. MethodsUsing an auto-ethnographic approach, experiential evidence was elicited through collective sense making from recorded conversations between the research team and senior leaders of five UK-based collaborative research partnerships. This approach applies a cultural analysis and interpretation of the leaders’ behaviours, thoughts, and experiences of co-production taking place in 2008-2018 and involving academics, health practitioners, policy makers, and representatives of third sector organisations. ResultsThe findings highlight a variety of practices across CLAHRCs, whereby the intersection between the senior leaders’ vision and local organisational context in which co-production occurs largely determines the nature of co-production process and outcomes. We identified four tensions in doing co-production: 1) idealistic, tokenistic vs realistic narratives, 2) power differences and (lack of) reciprocity, 3) excluding vs including language and communication, 4) individual motivation vs structural issues.ConclusionsThe tensions were productive in helping collaborative research partnerships to tailor co-production practices to their local needs and opportunities. Resulting variation in co-production practices across partnerships can therefore be seen as highly advantageous creative adaptation, which makes us question the utility of seeking a unified ‘gold standard’ of co-production. Strategic leadership is an important starting point for finding context-tailored solutions; however, development of more distributed forms of leadership over time is needed to facilitate co-production practices between partners. Facilitating structures for co-production can enable power sharing and boost capacity and capability building, resulting in more inclusive language and communication and, ultimately, more credible practices of co-production in research. We provide recommendations for creating more realistic narratives around co-production and facilitating power sharing between partners.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: Funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research (SPHR) is gratefully acknowledged for resourcing NH to support the data analysis and write up as part of her Summer Internship. RK is partially funded by the (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester (ARC-GM). PF and MC are members of the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration North East and North Cumbria (NIHR200173). HS is funded by the (NIHR) Yorshire and Humber ARC (NIHR200166). The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the National Institute for Health and Care Research or the Department of Health and Social Care.
Uncontrolled Keywords: co-production, NIHR CLAHRCs, applied health research, auto-ethnography
Subjects: A300 Clinical Medicine
B700 Nursing
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Nursing, Midwifery and Health
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2022 09:08
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2023 16:36
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/50941

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