This interim report aims to evaluate the project activities conducted during the National Programme for the Development of Resource Centres by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (formerly Nutek). The programme aims to improve the conditions of women within regional growth efforts. The programme has two contribution areas: Project funding for regional development and Basic financing for Resource Centres. This report is limited to evaluating project activities and shall focus on the programme’s/projects’ evaluability as well as results and effects.
In order to be able to achieve this objective, broad empirical data was gathered, compiled and analysed. The data comprises (1) previous evaluations and follow-ups, (2) indicators from Nutek’s NYPS monitoring system, (3) Nutek’s surveys of RC and RTP/RUP managers, and (4) interviews with a small number of project managers.
Previous evaluations indicate that the overall activities have been generally formulated, while the local and regional projects have focused on more specific objectives. Consequently, there is a need to clarify what it means to improve the conditions of women in regional development. A more distinct objective would also provide legitimacy for the activities, which is important in collaboration with other actors. Another perceived problem is that the work on projects impedes the possibility of working long term. The projects’ results based on the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth’s Nyps follow-up system are difficult to evaluate. Based on the projects that entered the indicators, it is clear that the projects’ results are close to the planned and expected results. However, based on the interviews with the project managers, it is clear that they have interpreted the indicators very differently.
In order for the follow-up system to become more usable for evaluation purposes, the project managers need clear guidelines from the Agency with regard to how the indicators should be interpreted. The surveys of the RC and RTP/RUP managers indicate a positive, although indistinct trend. In general, RC managers are more positive to the activities than RTP/RUP managers. Based on the interviews with the project managers and a large number of final project reports, it is clear that the projects’ work with RTP/RUP only constitutes a small portion of the projects’ activities. The main reason for this is that the projects are often very “demand-controlled”. This means that the project participants or members were able to shape the projects’ contents to a very large extent, including after the projects were approved. In many cases, this seems to have been necessary to be able to attract participants, but also meant that the connection to RTP/RUP was weakened in relation to that stated in the project application. It is also interesting that all four projects we chose to study more closely are still around 1-3 years after Nutek’s financing ran out. Some projects have other public financing; others live on as NGOs while parts of other projects live on as private companies.
Based on studies of project applications and the interviews we conducted, it is difficult to find a least common denominator, except the very general goal of better utilising women’s potential in regional growth efforts. In other words, it is difficult to inductively create a programme logic based on the projects’ activities and individual project logic. The lack of legitimacy that many resource centre managers and project managers express is also linked to this unclear programme logic. Other public actors often simply have no clear perception of what resource centres and projects at resource centres do.
Resource centres for women – an evaluation of project activities 2002–2008 Interim report