Chapter 2 explores the theory of specialization and comparative advantage. Economic theory suggests that specialization increases productivity. Does this apply to education or Extension Educators? A review of the literature shows that many economists and extension leaders think it does. A review of the initial steps by Extension Services to encourage specialization suggests that few, if any, states have found the institutional arrangements needed to encourage specialization.
Updates since book publication:
Iowa State University Extension's 2009 Restructuring
Iowa State University announced a new regional model in the spring of 2009. The new Iowa model has some features which are the same as the Minnesota model and some that appear different. Similar to the Minnesota model, counties can purchase local positions but have to pay the full cost rather than getting a major portion covered by the state Extension office. All of the state and federal funds go to fund "program specialists," which includes both specialized field educators and campus faculty. The program specialists work over multi-county regions and/or the entire state. Unlike Minnesota, there are no regional offices. The field program specialists have virtual offices, with some also using county offices.
For a more detailed description of these changes see: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/restructuring.htm
Comments: Has your state taken steps to encourage regionalization and/or specialization? If so, what are they? Are there any research reports or journal articles about the effectiveness of these new arrangements?