S is for Stimulating Market Forces

Day seven of the September SCALERS series: 

Stimulating Market Forces: “the effectiveness with which the organization can create incentives that encourage people or institutions to pursue private interests while also serving the public good.” (Bloom & Chatterji, 2009)

This piece was originally published on the blog 
Accelerating Achievement and is bring reprinted with permission. Accelerating Achievement features news and research from the Developmental Education Initiative, an effort by MDC, a nonprofit in Chapel Hill, N.C., to scale up effective remedial education practices at community colleges and states that were early participants in Achieving the Dream, a national community college reform effort. DEI is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

SCALERS Series: S is for Stimulating Market Forces 

As with earnings generation, most community colleges may not think of their work in terms of market forces. However, the concept of creating demand for a product or service still applies. We named this driver “sustaining engagement” and define it as the effectiveness with which a college can create incentives that encourage institutional leadership, program staff, faculty, and students to be involved in and value the expanded solution.  

The college should consider the types of incentives that will appeal to different constituent groups: while everyone will want to hear about positive program outcomes, leaders might be most interested in access to return-on-investment calculations; program staff and faculty might want flexibility, support, and time for their own development; students might want to see direct connection between individual needs and program services, or even monetary incentives. The incentives may change depending on the phase of implementation: encouraging adoption and enrollment require different motivators than encouraging support for expansion; continuing support and participation may require still others.

Sustaining engagement has significant overlap with other drivers, particularly communicatingalliance building, and demonstrating impact. An evaluation plan with clear short-, intermediate-, and long-term outcome targets enables an organization to routinely measure, report, and make necessary revisions. A systematic approach to professional development ensures that these revisions are incorporated into curricula, training, and implementation practices. When the evaluation data and professional development learning are tied to a communication plan that addresses marketing concerns, as well as internal messaging, leadership, program staff, and students are all made aware of the program or practice, know about the associated positive outcomes, and know how to participate.

A restructuring of leadership teams at El Paso Community College (EPCC) provides an example of how to sustain engagement at one level of the institution. When EPCC was selected to participate in the Developmental Education Initiative, they initially planned to create a DEI-specific core team of relevant faculty, staff, and administrators, similar to their Achieving the Dream Core Team. However, in an effort to increase coordination and reduce overlap, the college created the President’s Student Success Core Team, comprised of representatives from all of the college’s major developmental education reform efforts. This organizational structure allows representatives from each major initiative to be at the table with the president and his cabinet to share updates and discuss their impact before final decisions are made. This structure also makes it easy to bring new initiatives to the table and integrate the work into existing efforts.