Cultural policy evaluation as implementation…
By Osedebamen David Oamen
Department of Theatre and Media Arts, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma Edo State, Nigeria.
Cultural policy evaluation as implementation redirection mechanism.
This study examined cultural policy implementation evaluation, which recognized that evaluation is to measure the extent of implementation of cultural policy using formative or summative method. It emphasized the central placement of objective before the application of either of these methods. It observed that irrespective of the result of evaluation, it is a means towards better understanding of implementation; failure, success or redirection. It viewed that if evaluation indicated success, it becomes necessary to sustain success attained so as to continuously benefit from it. It argued that the process of success sustenance is capable of expanding implementation benefits. It further argued that if implementation result is unsuccessful, it becomes necessary to find cause with a view to redirect implementation. It concluded that the process of sustaining successful implementation and the process of redirecting unsuccessful implementation are both redirection mechanisms. It then becomes important for nations to evaluate cultural policy with sustenance or redirection intent.
Keywords: Cultural policy, evaluation, mechanism, implementation and redirection.
Policy is an instrument of government administration invented for the interest of the people. As an instrument of government, it has to be administered. The only way to administer a policy is to implement it. Implementation in this regard is to actualize the intent of the policy. The intent of the policy constitutes programmes, which include administrative, financial and structural provisions which will enable a service to be rendered or product manufactured.
In this study, cultural policy evaluation is considered as a necessary instrument of managing the culture of a nation for the purpose of social, economic and political co-existence considering the fact that culture is instrumental to peace or anarchy depending on its management. Therefore, in the event of cultural policy provisions in a nation it has to be implemented and evaluated to ascertain how far success has been achieved with the implementation. Policy evaluation must chose a format to be adopted which is either formative or summative with a mode if the need be, these becomes necessary so as to establish a comprehensive process of evaluation in addition to choosing a theoretical framework, which strives to establish its academic potencies and universal acceptability. These enabled it to adequately measure implementation. The successes of evaluation, whether positive or negative prove actions have been successfully taken.
Every nation has its cultural policy, whether written or unwritten, whether it is a multi or monocultural nation. This is because culture is very important in individual, interpersonal, inter-communal and international relations. The relationship nature of culture calls for its management, and for management to take its full course, it must formulate and adopt a policy as a compass instrument. Policy instrument is important because it provides the framework and strategies for cultural management towards achieving the set goals. It is in the stead of achieving the set goals that policy evaluation is necessary.
Nagel defined policy analysis as a process of determining which of the various alternative public or governmental policies will most achieve a given set goals in light of the relationships between the policies and the goals. He listed five elements of policy evaluation. They are:-
- Goals, including normative constraints and relative weight for the goals.
- Policies, programs, projects, decision, options, means or other alternatives which are available for achieving the goals.
- Relations between the policies and the goals, including relations that are established by institutions, authorities, statistics, observations, deductions, guesses, or by other means.
- Drawing a tentative conclusion as to which policy or combination of policies is best to adopt in light of the goals, policies, and relations.
- Determining what it would take to bring a second place alternative up to first place (10).
In furthering this assertion, it was observed that other concepts are often used to mean the same thing as public analysis, such as policy evaluation, policy studies, programme evaluation, policy management science and policy science. It is believe that one could make a distinction between these concepts. For instance, policy evaluation emphasizes evaluating alternative public policies, as contracted to describing them or explaining why they exist. Though each concept is distinctive, they are interrelated as it concerns evaluation. It is emphasized that public policy method refers to drawing conclusion on which policy to adopt from information on goals, policies and relations.
Established relations between policies as goals, determine what policies are available for adoption and what goals are appropriate to consider. There is the need to enumerate key characteristics of policy analysis, which are validity, importance/usefulness, originality and feasibility. Validity means to be accurate. Importance has to do with societal benefit and cost. Usefulness means by what way is the policy evaluation relevant to policy maker and implementers? In other words, what is the process of utilizing the findings of the research? Originality is also important because all research differ to some extent from previous researches. Therefore, validity, importance and usefulness should have objective reality that will enable liberal and conservation views to agree for the purpose of achieving originality.
There is growing interests in the evaluation of public cultural institutions and policies over the years. It has been observed that general administration policy guidelines and operating systems already exists and are being used by several authorities to assess cultural institutions performance and expressed displeasure about inappropriate use of conventional evaluation system for cultural institutions and policies. It ascribed the difficulty of evaluating cultural institutions performance evaluation in public sector to management efficiency and financial indicators.
In considering evaluation efforts from Japanese cultural institutions and United Kingdom, the overall importance of evaluating cultural institutions and policies was drawn to establish (a) policy evaluation is a means through which problems and challenges are identified and improved on using the “plan –> do –> check –> action” cycle to find out if policy set goals have been met. This is because, it is absolutely critical that evaluation should be tailored to improvement, and citing England’s with high instructive emphasis about on-going improvement(4) (b) changing public needs makes evaluation necessary so as to respond to social economic environment. (c) The performance which actualize policy objective is the responsibility of public institutions and the policies to be implemented (d), if the activities of cultural institutions are to be managed by private managers, it is the duty of the authority to assign to them achievable objectives and evaluate them. Policy and its performance evaluation are necessary to measure implementation, weakness, needs and future action.
Purdon, et al dealt on evaluation research methods and researchable questions bothering on evaluation. These questions depend on the policy to be evaluated and the initial objectives which the policy makers intended. Policy objectives should be clearly set out so that appropriate research questions can be formulated. He suggested that different sources of evidence should be used to triangulate, verify, substantiate or qualify findings. In designing an evaluation workable within the context of a programme, he opined that evaluation cannot be done in a vacuum but within programme objectives and evaluatable context. He suggested that all large-scale evaluations of government policy should be managed and developed in future (4).
There are cases where process evaluation may be all that is needed for an evaluation. Sometimes it is done along-side impact evaluation. In this instance, process evaluation data can be used independently of impact evaluation to assess implementation procedure. The attempt to know how policy operates and what areas you need to know about and how information should be collected is addressed by process evaluation. Process evaluation which is also known as formative evaluation is undertaken to provide information that will be used to improve on a policy programme. However, government policy evaluation does not favour one single method of evaluation, complementary potentials of different research methods is therefore acknowledged. The choice of method is driven by the actual action intended on a particular policy in order to know whether it is working or not and why. A befitting and appropriate research method is required to evaluate policy effectiveness in the area of intervention, implementation and processes, depending on the area, to determine policy merit, worth or value in terms of improving the social and economic conditions of the people. Policy evaluation uses quantitative and qualitative methods, experimental and non- experimental designs, descriptive and experimental methods, theory based approaches, research synthesis methods and economic evaluation methods.
However, two types of evaluation method are commonly used. They are summative and formative evaluation. Summative evaluation, is also known as impact evaluation, it is designed to ask questions about the impact of a policy programme or intervention on specific outcomes for different group of people. Summative evaluation seeks estimate of effects of policy either in terms of what it was originally set out to achieve or to compare with other inventions or with doing nothing at all, which is regarded as counterfactual.
Formative evaluation is also known as process evaluation. It asks how, why and under what conditions does a policy intervention work or fail to work? Formative evaluation is important because it helps to determine effective implementation and policy delivery programmes or projects. It typically seeks information on contextual factors, mechanisms and processes underlying a policy’s success or failure. However, the distinction between summative and formative evaluation is not rigid as the characterization may suggest (10). On this note, formative evaluation coupled with descriptive, experiential (observer participant) and historical research method is suitable for the evaluation of any cultural policy.
Cultural policy appraisal or evaluation is as new as cultural management particularly in developing world, which is still locating ground for recognition. Evaluation is an aspect of management which probe policy implementation. Therefore, the evaluation of cultural policy is probing the cultural policy of any nation to examine the extent of implementation. To achieve this there has to be a theoretical framework to anchor the argument. Considering its recent emergence, theoretical framework for cultural policy implementation evaluation is almost non-existent. Janet Summertan argues; … it is important to take time to look at the small amount of theoretical materials in print which does exist in the field of arts and cultural management… Arts and cultural management is not a coherent practice in other fields in some regards and we can learn from that literature (1).
Theories in this particular field are scarce probably because it is an area striving for recognition. According to the author cited above, this could be because most of the management terminologies used in arts and cultural management were developed outside the arts but incorporated into it for the purpose of management. For instance, terminologies like marketing, strategic planning have performance indications, output and input are applied. The author acknowledged that arts and cultural management have primary responsibilities; that is to use the concept and ideas developed elsewhere in a manner which suits their own situation. He further agreed that management focus has shifted from other aspects of management to the management of people, self, building, trust and relationship, and most recently emotional intelligence are means of enhancing behaviour and bringing the necessary effect into place.
Ekepre Charles-Owaba viewed experts opinion and in citing Hax and Majuf stated that the performance of an organization depends exclusively on human characteristics and behaviour relative to individual needs, motivation, perception, attitude group behaviour and communication (60). These elements help to stimulate human performance which transform into organizational performance. Ivancevich Szilazui and Wallace corroborated the above views, thus essentially behaviourist believes that those involved in the organizations are prime determinants of organizational and managerial effectiveness (10), hence there is focus shift to motivation of people as human behaviour is assumed complex and most vital aspect of management. Fred Luthans observed that;
The management of human resources of an organization have been, are and will continue to be the major challenge and critical competitive advantage in spite of information technology, globalization, diversity and ethics which underline organization behaviour… “People are the key”. This is because you can copy or buy technology but human ideas, personality innovation, organization and cultural value cannot be copied. This constitutes human or intellectual capital. However, human nature stability overtime remains as a promising hope against his replacement (39).
The behavioural aspect of management has been pointed at as factor of change which if motivated and encouraged will bring about the desired change that is expected. World Bank and European Union developed four set of theories relevant to evaluation. The most appropriate to the cultural policy evaluation is the theories of implementation and change, it include understanding of policy change, the diffusion of innovation, administrative and organizational behaviour and leadership. The theories are mainly derived from political science and organization studies (10). These theories are relevant because the Nigerian cultural policy, through which innovation has been diffused to march trend and international best practices in cultural policy implementation is responding. Ilana Shapero observed that the theories of change refer to the causal processes through which change comes as a result of programmer strategies and action. It relates to how practitioners believe individuals, intergroup and social systemic change happens and how specifically. Their actions will produce positive result (1). He observed two types of theories of change; prospectively and retrospectively. While the first is part of planning and initiative, the latter is part of planning and evaluative process. He acknowledged… the importance of process and content goals and identified their specific connection to intend outcomes and mapping those partway of change (3).
Mel Sharpe in dealing with organizational change insisted that an organization will not maintain stability or longevity if it cannot change in relation to the needs of the social environment. Organizational change ability, therefore, is directly related to the ability to listen to the voices within the social environment and to accurately predict human behaviour in relation to change taking place within the social environment. He remarked that change takes place through persuasion or force. He cited Schwartz and Ewala as he viewed social cultural system in two ways and recognized two general changes, internal change, whose source is within the culture and external change which originates and enters into the culture. In assessing “implementation of change” he noted that effectiveness of implementation is based on the congruence of the component parts of the organizational system, unit among members of the transformational systems viewed as work, formal organization, informal organization and people. He commended on (i) building the new strategy for implementation (ii) aligning organizational strategy and cultures and finding the right people (3).
A lot of factors have been viewed necessary for effective implementation and evaluation of policy. Although cultural management and evaluation is a new area attracting the attention of researchers, these factors are applicable to it because there are no factors applicable to cultural policy only for now. Therefore, all in indications, policy implementation requires effective human factor among other things, this endeared it to behaviour management. It is only human beings that can implement to effect change that is expected and evaluated. Hence, the theories of implementation and change, which include understanding of policy change; the diffusion of innovation; administrative and organizational behaviour and leadership(3) form the theoretical framework for this study. Considering the fact that the formulation of policy ends when the policy becomes law and planning is the process of determining goals and their priorities and when the broad objective of policy is being set, efforts must be made to keep the member of participants and decision points small. Policy statements should contain action commitments and answer several distinct questions… It then becomes a task, this task in turn, requires that the output of public service be measured (61) It is axiomatic that effective planning requires periodic review to ensure not only the plans are carried out in the prescribed manner but also that they are achieving the expected results – an axiom of administration not always honoured (221). It then becomes very important to honour this axiom of periodic review, using the above theories of implementation and change on cultural policy.
Evaluation or appraisal model is used to define the coverage of the implementation of a policy. It helps to define what concept of appraisal or evaluation to study and the most convenient and reliable process required to extract critical data. In this context, illuminative model of evaluation or appraisal employs subjective methods and it is basically focused on informing function of appraisal or evaluation. It has two elements, they are holistic and responsive. In applying these elements to any study appraised the implementation of the cultural policy must be holistically. It is agreed that the responsiveness of government led to the cultural policy implementation. This will helped in the selection of the key areas that represented the total cultural policy.
Richard described an illuminative model in the Evaluation of Cultural Action. He stated that it is a custom built research strategy which lacks in formal states of objectives, avoids… statistical procedures, employs subjective methods and is primarily interested in the informing function of inspectoral or grading functions of an evaluation (1). This view fits the direction of this study, hence it should be adopted despite the availability of other models. The informing function of appraisal or evaluation is in line with process or formative evaluation, which is the core evaluation method suitable for this study.
In as much as policy is a continuous instrument with government, individuals and corporate organization plan the implementation of programme, which means it is continuous, evaluation should also be continuous. This is as a result of its redirection mechanism which enables policy to achieve its objective.
Cultural policy evaluation is very important, it is important because culture is dynamic and what is positive in one culture might be negative in another culture. More so, that the cultural policy is set to achieve an objective, its evaluation becomes very important. This is because it will help to improve implementation failure as well as help to advance implementation success. It is also important to recommend that evaluation of policy, irrespective of its area of origin, should be holistically or segmentally, without undermining the practical or theoretical procedures of evaluation.
Any policy that is not evaluated evades successful implementation, which evaluation stands to achieve. Periodic evaluation of cultural policy is important to ensure full implementation or redirection to achieve objective of the policy. It is also important that evaluation is done by using the right method and laid down procedures. Evaluation comes with a result of either policy is successfully implemented, not successfully implemented or not implemented. Whichever provides a ground to redirect implementation strategy. If a cultural policy has been successfully implemented it means something has to be done to sustain the level of implementation and, or improve on it. If it is not sustained or improved upon it may fall back to the beginning, which means all the money, time, energy and materials expended would have been lost. It the cultural policy has not been successfully implemented, it means strategies should be enforced and resources deployed to ensure implementation. if the cultural policy has not been implemented, it also entails strategy enforcement and deployment of resources to achieve implementation. if implementation is not successfully implemented or not implemented at all, it is necessary to probe into the cause. Whatever the problem is and whatever the action taken, these are strategies to redirect implementation. it therefore stands that any action taken to advance successful implementation, or to implement where there is no implementation or fully implemented where implementation has been half way implemented is a mechanism to redirect implementation mechanism so as to reduce the risk of implementation failure.