Too Much of a Good Thing? Frequent Flyers and the Implications for the Coproduction of Public Service Delivery

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The coproduction model has re-emerged in recent years and drawn considerable attention. The new attention and findings are positive, highlighting the benefits for citizens and governments.

Previous research on technologically-enabled coproduction (Internet, smartphones, and centralized non-emergency municipal call centers), show that these technologies have brought coproduction within reach of citizens (Clark, Brudney, Jang 2013). This form of coproduction facilitates levels of coproduction not previously possible. We refer to these hyper-coproducers as “frequent flyers.” This change in participatory intensity in service delivery may be cause for concern if these individuals are not representative of their communities. Thus far the literature has overlooked an important, unintended consequence: Could technologically-enabled coproduction render participation so easy that the danger arises that a small group of citizens may (over) use or abuse the system by registering very frequent requests.

We explores frequent flyers, by examining the size of this group, their service activity and participation, and the implications for the bureaucratic process. The representative bureaucracy literature examines the demographic composition of full-time employees in the public sector to determine whether this group is representative of the larger population, and the possible consequences. In our article we extend the concept of representative bureaucracy to the frequent flyers: We investigate the representativeness of this group relative to the general city population, and the degree to which their frequent use of coproduction may skew the responsiveness and bureaucratic performance.