November 19, 2013

Private benefits from short-term outcomes

The students in my recent lecture for the Penn State University Agricultural Extension and Education program asked me several useful questions. One was whether the public value message structure (below) implied that private benefits can only be accrued after condition changes have occurred. Note that the thin, black arrow leading to the participant's private benefits implies exactly this.
In fact, I think the original construction--with the arrow extending from condition changes to private benefits--misleads. A program participant may very well enjoy benefits long before conditions have improved. Indeed, many participants directly benefit from improvements in knowledge and skills. For example, a participant in leadership development program may see personal career benefits from the enhanced leadership and facilitation abilities he acquired through the program. And this may occur well before the program can claim improvements in community conditions. So, I wonder if the diagram should be redrawn (as I did above) to indicate that those private benefits can, indeed, arise from the intermediate stages in public value creation. What do you think (besides that I need to employ someone with better graphic design skills than mine. :))?

November 13, 2013

The private-public benefit intersection

intersection_ahead.jpgIn the public value message structure (seen here for example), I distinctly separate private benefits to program participants from the public value accruing to the rest of the community. In a recent seminar for Penn State University Agricultural Extension and Education program, I was asked whether I saw an intersection between private and public benefits, or need they always be separated in the model. I think the intersection between private and public benefits occurs when the program participant is a member of the community that enjoys the subsequent public benefits. In those cases, the participant will benefit from her own involvement in the program--through gaining new skills or making behavior changes that personally benefit her--but along with her neighbors, she will also enjoy the community-level changes the program generates. For example, someone who participates in an entrepreneurship program may enhance her business skills and improve the profitability of her own business. Her business' success improves local economic conditions--perhaps attracting new customers or suppliers to the area or enlarging the tax base--which improve opportunities for everyone in the community, along with the original entrepreneur.

I don't typically emphasize this intersection, because the objective of the public value works is to adopt the perspective of the non-participant payers of Extension programs--the community-members who are being asked to share in the cost of the programs through public funding, but who do not receive the private benefits of program participation. Nevertheless, the point that an intersection between public and private benefits exists, is well-taken.

November 4, 2013

How long is the long-term?

In the diagram below, I map the outcomes section of the University of Wisconsin Extension logic model to the components of a public value message. In the parlance of the UWEX model, learning outcomes are short-term, behavior changes are medium-term, and condition changes are long-term.

Participants in two recent seminars--one for the UM Center for Integrative Leadership and one for Penn State University's Agricultural Extension and Education program--challenged this pattern. They argued that some programs may generate public-value-level outcomes in less time than it takes other programs to generate behavior changes. In these cases, doesn't labeling the outcomes as short-, medium-, and long-term cause confusion?

Logic model.bmp

I think this is a useful point. What matters for the generation of public value is that the desired community-level condition changes are achieved, not how long it took to get there. If a program is able to alter economic, social, civic, or environmental conditions in ways that matter to critical stakeholders, then those impacts can be the basis of a public value message, even if they arose in the course of weeks or months, rather than the years or generations it may take for other programs to see impacts.

May 17, 2010

ExTEND-ing public value in Georgia

Across the country, Cooperative Extension organizations are adopting a variety of strategies for training their staff in the public value approach. University of Missouri appointed an "MU Extension Public Value Education Team," who subsequently offered "Building Extension's Public Value" training to all of MU Extension. Some states introduced the training to a particular program area (Family and Consumer Sciences in North Carolina, and Community Resource Development in New York and Pennsylvania). Nevada, in contrast, introduced it in selected regions.
University of Georgia Extension has chosen to introduce public value training as part of a professional development program for the organization's leaders--and future leaders. Last week I taught the BEPV workshop for Georgia's "ExTEND" group: participants in an advanced program of the Extension Academy for Professional Excellence. I look forward to seeing how the ExTEND group chooses to use the training--how they plan to extend their organization's public value.

What approach do you think will work best to build support for public funding for Extension programs? BEPV training for everyone? For Extension leadership? Rolling out the concepts by program area or region? Or another approach?