Evaluating co-creation in social innovation projects: Towards a process orientated framework for EU projects and beyond

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In the last two decades, co-creation and social innovation have become important concepts in academic research and public policy. The two concepts are conceptually linked, but this relationship has hardly been problematised in academic literature. In addition, social innovation and especially co-creation are not defined in EU policies, but merely included because they support policy aims. The lack of problematisation and definition not only hampers progress in the academic field, but is also constringing co-creation into an exercise of merely including stakeholders therefore neglecting the full potential of co-creation. The key question addressed in this paper is therefore: How can we evaluate the application of co-creation in EU-funded social innovation projects?

A literature review revealed that co-creation and social innovation have become connected only very recently in academic literature. In this publication we analyse the meta narratives of this emerging body of literature and conclude that we can distinguish three distinct segments with their own characteristics. We used these insights to develop an adaptive evaluation framework. This framework can be used to assess the application of co-creation within social innovation in for example EU-funded projects. This could push the emerging academic field forward and open up new research themes and designs. We also suggest that the framework could specifically support policymakers in their efforts to evaluate processes of co-creation instead of focusing on the dominant impact evaluations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Evaluation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 May 2023


  • co-creation
  • social innovation
  • evaluation
  • impact
  • EU policy


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