News Archive

New article on creating public value

The most recent issue of Public Administration Review includes a symposium on “Exploring the Value of Public Value,” which is edited by my University of Minnesota colleagues, John Bryson, Barbara Crosby, and Laura Bloomberg. While not specifically about Extension, my contribution to the symposium, “Creating Public Value with Tax and Spending Policies: The View from Public Economics,” uses Extension as an example of the public value approach in practice.

How do your programs create public value?

In the Building Extension’s Public Value workshop, we highlight three main ways Extension programs create public value. Programs address concerns about fairness, close an information gap, or encourage actions that benefit the greater community (or equivalently, discourage actions that impose costs on the community). Each of these can be thought of as a criterion or justification for public sector involvement. In my experience, most Extension programs focus on the third type of value creation and base their public value message on the ways a program encourages beneficial activities.

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.

The private-public benefit intersection

intersection street signIn 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.

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.

logic model

Does public value magnitude matter?

Is it enough for a stakeholder to learn that your program produced public value, or do stakeholders want to know how much value was created? Put another way, is it adequate to demonstrate that a program has a positive return on investment for a community? Or does it have to have a higher return than all the alternative investments the community could have made?

apple and orange

Working Differently in Extension Podcast

Interested in a short introduction to “Building Extension’s Public Value”? Check out this Working Differently in Extension Podcast, featuring a conversation between Bob Bertsch of Agricultural Communication at North Dakota State University and me. If you’d like to actually see us converse, check out the video of the podcast below.

Evaluation and accountability

Last month at the 2013 AAEA Annual Conference, I was one of three presenters in a concurrent session on “Creating and Documenting Extension Programs with Public Value-Level Impacts.” I learned a lot from both of my co-presenters, but here are just two quick ideas I took away from the session:

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