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Challenging the Pollution Prevention Technical Assistance model



Please respond to Mr. Hamner directly or to P2Tech at p2tech@great-lakes.net

I won't be able to attend the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable
in Portland (www.p2.org), but hey, why not stir things up there anyway.
I have been collecting key reference publications on P2 program
management, and on management of other kinds of programs that provide
technical assistance to smaller firms.  In developing countries such
programs have long been a mainstay of foreign aid, and a great deal of
evaluation has gone into it (unfortunately, not before a lot of money
was wasted in it).

My research leads me to ask if the current standard model of P2
assistance programs, providing onsite support, direct training,
financing, etc. is even the right model.  The International Labor Office
has come to conclusion, after 40 years of global experience with small
business assistance, that direct services to firms is not a good
strategy.  They now promote a market-oriented strategy that supports
intermediary organizations to provide TA on a market basis to target
firms.  They would likely argue that P2 organizations should focus
exclusively on consultants, business advisors, accountants and others
who have longer-term professional relationships with target firms and
who can weave P2 into their business services - if we show them how.
For an excellent paper on this new approach, and lots of great leads,
see http://www.ilo.org/public/english/employment/ent/sed/bds/seminar/.
Download the Reader on Business Development Services, it is really
eye-opening.  I hope at the Roundtable someone will pose for debate the
hypothesis, "Direct assistance to target firms is a waste of time for TA
organizations, we should focus only on intermediaries."  Seriously, the
ILO is the world's most experienced organization providing help to small
firms, and this is what they seem to have concluded after 40 years
trying just about everything.  What evidence do we have that they are
wrong?

I know P2 program metrics are a hot topic at the moment, but if the
basic model is wrong the metrics won't get better.

Sorry I will miss the show.  Portland has great local beers to maximize
your waist.

Burt Hamner
www.cleanerproduction.com
Seattle