Volunteerism as co-production in public service management: application to public safety in California

Juliet A. Musso, Matthew M. Young, Michael Thom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This study analyses volunteerism in public safety as a case of ‘participative coproduction’ that has the potential to improve administrative efficiency through substitution of labour but at the cost of administrative complexity. Coordination costs relate to the interdependent character of the public service relationship and the non-excludability of public safety benefits. The analysis considers the influence of fiscal and institutional factors on volunteerism through a two-stage empirical model where the first stage involves the presence of a volunteer programme, and the second stage the relative reliance on volunteer versus paid employees among such programmes. The findings demonstrate distinct differences across programme types in the factors associated with volunteerism in public safety. Volunteerism in policing appears more common in smaller cities with higher property crime rates and a more politically conservative population, while volunteerism in firefighting is associated with scale, fiscal capacity and organizational form.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-494
Number of pages22
JournalPublic Management Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 3 2019


  • Coproduction
  • local government service
  • public safety
  • public service management
  • volunteerism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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