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How can SEN change the world? 24 September 2013

Posted by cooperatoby in EU, social economy, Social enterprise.
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IFAD logframe cartoonThe Social Entrepreneurship Network’s logical framework allows us to keep track of whether we are achieving our objectives:

(Thanks for cartoon to IFAD)

SEN logframe

I think at Trento we kept on track, assembled a great stakeholder group, and covered the critical success factors quite well.

What should we look out for? I would say that:
– as regards the food for our work, the partners‘ role is crucial in contributing examples of good practice
– as regards changing the world, we have to constantly ensure that Structural Fund programmers are aware of the options we propose

In praise of dedicated budgets 27 June 2009

Posted by cooperatoby in EU.
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It is rare for policy-makers to confess their errors, so some honest rueful contrition makes a welcome change. Speaking at a meeting of QeC-ERAN: 20 Years of European Urban Policy in the Halles St-Géry in Brussels on 24th June, Dirk Ahner , Director General of the European Commission’s Regional Policy DG, did just such a thing. He explained that the rationale behind mainstreaming was to make more money available for the sort of integrated development projects that the URBAN Community Initiative had supported. These were projects that:
– tackled exclusion and disadvantage
– combined hard and soft measures
– achieved social, economic and environmental goals
– were based on community ownership and local partnerships with the private sector

But instead, as it has turned out in the wash, local government is disjointed. ERDF programmes are in the hands of individual ministries which have gone back to promoting sectoral projects in areas such as transport and the environment, denying cities a voice. The learning of URBAN has been largely forgotten.

There is now probably €30 bn being invested in urban development – a vast improvement on URBAN’s €700m budget – but much of it is not being applied in the way the optimists intended.

By the way I’m still puzzled by the way the Sixth R&D Framework Programme’s problem-oriented structure was abandoned when it came to FP7. FP6 had a Key Action called The City of Tomorrow which seemed to be going in exactly the right direction, but evidently joined-up thinking is as hard to do in the lab as it is on the ground.

I suppose that there will always be a pendulum swing between phases of integration and targeting – after a period of multiple initiatives, these were slimmed down to two (EQUAL & URBAN) and now none. At a moment when the operational programmes for the 2007-2013 programming period are taking shape, it’s salutary to be reminded of the dangers of mainstreaming. You can mainstream good things out of existence too.

Mainscreaming 4 May 2009

Posted by cooperatoby in EU, social economy.
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With any luck it will get more profound than that.

One thing that’s been on my mind festering for a while is the idea of ‘mainstreaming‘. This is one step up from dissemination, in that instead of just telling the world about your discovery or your policy idea, you actually undertake some steps to persuade those with their hands on the levers of power to actually do something. So for instance if you run an experimental project and show that something works, you then invite local politicians to see round, take them out to dinner, make sure it fits with electoral cycles etc. At first glance it’s a very excellent idea, designed to put an end to white elephants by linking public expenditure to improving public policy, and making sure we learn from our history.

However it seems to me to have perverse effects sometimes, because the good work you’re doing out in the field is relegated to second-best, below what those at the top think of it. The welfare of the real people in the real world becomes a distant irrelevance, and the views and prejudices of policy-makers become the chief concern. So the whole policy-making machine starts to go round in circles eating its own tail. What is a good idea and can do good out there in the real world is written off because it’s infeasible in the elites’ minds. In short, mainstreaming can degenerate into solipsism.

Even more bizarrely, policy solipsists can start to see a concern for the outside world as solipsism itself; practical proposals to improve the operation of, to take an example, social economy institutions, may be dismissed as “technical”, even though those institutions do a lot of good and world serve public policy objectives if they worked better.

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