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This study aims to contribute improving our understanding of the concept of co-production by analyzing, from a theoretical perspective rooted in new institutional economics, the role played by the kind of transactions that are required in order to co-produce public services. An analytical distinction is made between acts of co-production that require "spot" contributions from the side of clients and those that call for more "enduring" commitment of time and other resources before performing co-production and consumption acts. Building on a case of co-production of active labor market policies in Italy where unemployed who held unregistered jobs withdrew from the service agreement, this study argues that features of the transaction (frequency and degree of asset specificity), context conditions, and characteristics of the governance arrangement contribute explaining why clients are more or less willing to invest their time and other resources in co-producing public services.


Co-production, investment, relational contracts