Resource centres for women
– An evaluation of project activities 2002-2008 – final report
This report aims to evaluate the project activities conducted within the National Programme for the Development of Resource Centres by Nutek (now the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth). The programme aims to improve the conditions of women within regional growth efforts. The programme has two areas of effort: Project funding for regional development and Basic financing for Resource Centres. The Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis (formerly ITPS) was commissioned to evaluate the project activities with regard to entrepreneurship, enterprise, the labour market, availability and how well the project activities can be evaluated. The report was to study the periods 2002-2004 and 2005-2008 in particular.
In order to be able to conduct the evaluation, broad empirical data was gathered, compiled and analysed. The data comprises (1) previous evaluations and followups, (2) indicators from Nutek’s NYPS monitoring system, (3) Nutek’s surveys of managers at resource centres (RC) and regional growth and development programmes (RGP/RDP), and (4) interviews with a small number of project managers.
Previous evaluations indicate that the overall activities were generally formulated, while the local and regional projects focused on more specific objectives. Consequently, there is a need to clarify what it means to improve the conditions of women in regional development work. More distinct objectives would also provide legitimacy to the activities, which is important in collaboration with other actors.
Nutek’s questionnaires to RC and RGP/RDP managers indicate a positive, although unclear development in how the project activities affected the RGP/RDP work. In general, RC managers are more positive to the activities than RGP/RDP managers.
Based on the interviews with the project managers and a large number of final project reports, it is clear that the project work with RGP/RDP only constitutes a small portion of the project 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, even 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 RGP/RDP was weakened in relation to that stated in the project application.
The results of the project activities are presented by the project manager reporting on various indicators. The indicators studied in this evaluation are the number of activities, the number of participants, the number trained, the number of jobs created and the number of new companies formed. However, many projects did not report any of these indicators. The reason for this dropout is either 1) that the project manager for some reason failed to report in, or 2) the project manager chose not to report in since the indicators did not describe their activities. It is clear, however, that the project managers who did report in on indicators did so only for a selection of indicators. However, there does not appear to be any major differences in dropout depending on year, project funding size or geographic spread.
The indicators are divided into both expected and realised results, meaning that the degree of goal fulfilment can be evaluated. Of the projects that report in indicators, they appear to have generally achieved their expected results, which is positive. There do not appear to be any major differences in the degree of goal fulfilment between the periods 2002-2004 and 2005-2006.
The overriding pattern from the project activities, the analysis of indicators, and previous studies and interviews with project managers is the lack of a clear programme logic and target formulation. A clearer target formulation would probably create greater legitimacy and improve the assessability of the activities. Consequently, there is a need to clarify what the programme’s goal is and what it means to improve the conditions of women in regional development work.
In an attempt to clarify the goal formulation, Growth Analysis proposes that the project activities should be focused on three activity areas: entrepreneurship (inspiring to go into business), enterprise (developing existing businesses) and leadership (inspiring to take managerial positions). These activity areas match the activities currently conducted at resource centres for women. Like the project activities conducted today, future activities should closely cooperate with other actors in the areas concerned. The project activities should also be adapted to RGP/RDP.