Disseminating and exploiting policy lessons
Results that are described as policy lessons could turn out to be some of the more important findings of a project, especially if those lessons trigger lastingchanges in the way policies are formulated. However, if these types of results have the potential for broad application across a sector, project teams may have to work hard to get their findings to policy makers at local, regional, national or European level.
What are policy lessons?
Policy lessons may well be drawn from a group of projects funded via a particular programme or from specific projects that have a strong innovative edge to their work or have proven to be best practice calibre.
These results may well have wider application than say products or methods, although finding them may not have been the main priority for project teams. Indeed the generation and use of policy lessons may come at evaluation stage, when the work itself is finished.
While project teams may handle other end results, the dissemination and exploitation of policy lessons may in some cases fall to other parties that have a strategic remit, such as the European Commission or national agencies.
Policy lessons are likely to be tangible (though the element of subjectivity could also classify some results as intangible!). Their dissemination and exploitation depends on how they are presented. If lessons can be rendered in text form then traditional methods such as the use of paper publications, mailing lists, CD-ROMs and websites will be useful.
Project teams should also think about using audio-visual products as these give people the opportunity to describe policy lessons in some detail. There is scope too for the use of an on-line discussion forum - this is a great way to exchange ideas about policy lessons, providing that the right audience is logged in.
One of the most important ways to valorise policy lessons is through cooperation with stakeholders such as policy makers. This could stimulate debate and, if the right people are involved, drive a change in policy. If such results have the potential to feed into national or EU policy, then projects must try to set up “high-level” meetings, for example, with national ministries or Commission representatives.
If projects are keen to showcase and debate policy results then events (such as policy conferences and workshops) may prove to be an efficient way to present findings to large and small audiences. They could also be a handy way to start the networking process as delegates can pass on what they have learned. Projects could further help this process by identifying “policy champions” who could be used to disseminate results in a given sector.
Case study - Interregional cooperation
Eight European regions joined forces in 2002 to valorise a set of vocational training products devised through DG Education and Culture's Leonardo da Vinci programme. Each region chose one or two products to disseminate and exploit that had been created in other parts of Europe.
For example, Vastra Gotaland in Sweden harnessed work from an English team that helps women break into and retain positions of responsibility. Meanwhile a training product for female managers working in the Swedish health sector is now being used in Tuscany, Catalonia and Wales.
All those taking part agreed that they had been able to absorb the new products into their working practices at very little cost.
The partner regions have undertaken the task of disseminating the policy lessons learnt to various regional and national policy-makers.
More details: EARLALL