| 2022-2024

BeCoDigital - Digital Co-Creation of Public Services with Citizens: Understanding Pre-Conditions, Technologies and Outcomes


Digital government consists of the use of digital technologies to improve the internal functioning of administrations and the delivery of services to companies and citizens (Janowski 2015). However, discussion amongst scholars is ongoing regarding what the next stage of digital government will be. Numerous authors call for a digital government that is citizen-centric (Hasan et al., 2018), open to external innovations (Bonina & Eaton 2020; Lee & Kwak 2012), or integrating citizens’ input and ideas for smarter decisions (Simonofski et al. 2019). All these visions about the “next step” of digital government converge towards a changing relationship between citizens and government and argue for the digital co-creation of public services with citizens. Co-creation can be defined as a process in which actors exchange resources and jointly create value through an engagement interface (Leclercq et al. 2016). The confluence of four major factors has redefined the role of citizens in government to turn them into potential co-creators of public services instead of passive beneficiaries (Chantillon et al. 2017; Nambisan & Nambisan 2013). First, citizens have increasingly higher expectations regarding public services and expect more personalized public services as well as opportunities for participation. Second, public organizations are limited by their resources and their knowledge of what citizens need and therefore need innovative ways to develop solutions. Third, the problems faced by governments are increasingly complex (e.g. reaching sustainability goals) and call for collaborative approaches that include external partners, including citizens. Finally, the use of digital technologies allows to make the co-creation with citizens easier and more cost-effective.

The overall objective of the BECODIGITAL project is to develop a practical and scientifically grounded roadmap to support citizen co-creation through digital technologies while ensuring that this co-creation is performed in an inclusive manner, and to validate it in a federal government context. This roadmap and associated toolkit will be developed following design science research’s best practices. Although the co-creation phenomenon is not new, the BECODIGITAL project will focus on three key innovative aspects related to co-creation following the framing of Axelsson et al. (2010), a well-established theoretical framework that studies citizen involvement in digital government: (1) stakeholders’ pre-conditions and engagement issues related to co-creation, (2) citizen co-creation via rapidly evolving digital technologies providing new ways to engage citizens and (3) the evaluation of the outcomes of digital co-creation. Objective 1: Understanding stakeholders’ pre-conditions towards digital co-creation. Objective 2: Exploiting an ecosystem of digital technologies to enable co-creation. Objective 3: Evaluating the outcomes of digital co-creation.

Project website


  • BELSPO BRAIN-be 2.0 (Federal Science Policy; Belgian Research Action through Interdisciplinary Networks) - Call 2022-2023 - Pillar 3 Federal societal challenges - Priority #BeDigital

Project team

  1. University of Namur - Namur Digital Institute - coördinator
  2. KU Leuven - Research Centre for Information Sytems Engineering and Public Governance Institute
  3. University of Antwerp Politics & Public Governance (Koen Verhoest & Wouter Van Dooren)
  4. Sciensano