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Re: Challenging the Pollution Prevention Technical Assistance model

At WMRC we have implemented a proven approach to delivering technical assistance.  In the literature it is called technology diffusion.  We call our version Accelerated Diffusion of P2 Technology (ADOP2T). Tim Lindsey, our P2 Program Manager, wrote several articles about this in P2 Review.  The Research and Technology Transfer Workgroup of NPPR has been addressing this subject for a few years now.

In some cases we work directly with the manufacturers because the vendors and consultants are not able to strongly advocate P2 - it's against their business paradigm.  If the market place is being successful with a P2 technology - such as with powder coating - we don't need to place a strong emphasis on that as government/university agencies.  But there are many excellent examples of  P2 technology market failures - e.g., advanced separations for materials recovery, chemical management contracts - due to resistance by intermediary organizations and such concerns as compatibility and complexity.  In those cases government needs to be the change agent and may have to work with the manufacturer and some progressive intermediaries.  In other industries the vendors essentially run some operations.  In those cases it is most effective to work with them to implement change. 

Through this approach we now have achieved about a 75% rate of implementation of innovative technologies versus about 5% with traditional approaches.  Direct "how to" technical assistance really works if targeted right.  Such direct assistance by TA organizations may not be so necessary with what we call incremental changes.

I agree that we need to use market forces as much as possible but we also need to influence the market place because P2 is a preventive type innovation which is often at a disadvantage in the market place.  The reasons for this are often not because of cost advantages but because of uncertainties about performance, complexity, bad information, and difficulty test driving the P2 innovation.  Once the market place takes off we can move on to the next innovation.  Think about what it took to get seatbelts widely used.  P2 technologies have similar characteristics.  They are the right thing to do and need government intervention.  In most cases regulations are not necessary if market forces can be used through strategic "how to" technical assistance.

Gary Miller

At 08:23 AM 2/13/02 -0600, Listman wrote:
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

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

Gary D. Miller, Ph.D.
Assistant Director
Waste Management and Research Center
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
One East Hazelwood Drive
Champaign, Illinois 61820
217/333-8942 (phone)
217/333-8944 (fax)
Web Sites:  www.wmrc.uiuc.edu