Study of Government Institutions: Exchange of Staff (Norec, 2019)

This report by Norec discusses the benefits and challenges of international personnel exchange for Government and semi-Government institutions, in particular with respect to individual and institutional learning. It examins the learning outcomes among public and governmental organisations that are taking part in Norec’s professional exchange programme. The study in particular concerned with identifying the specific learning outcomes that characterises public institutions, both at an individual and institutional level.

A core element of exchange programmes is that the exchange activity is perceived as a knowledge transfer process. Norec’s assumption is that in particular three key dimensions contribute to learning. These are: 1) the time- frame of the exchange; 2) the duration and depth, and; 3) the reciprocity of the partnerships. In this study we examine the impact (or not) of these dimensions, as well as we have identified other dimensions that contribute to learning.

Norec’s key assumptions proves to be key factors for achieving increased learning. The areas of improvement for Norec as a facilitator of the programmes are all minor adjustments of the existing professional exchange programme. Firstly, there is a need to reconsider the criteria of an upper age limit of 35 years for participants that take part in the professional exchange programme, as this places great limitations on institutional learning. The age limit ought to be raised within specialised fields to ensure that relevant staff, competence and learning are a priority within the Norec professional exchange programme.

Reciprocity is already a key dimension in the Norec programme, however, it identifies a need of further diversifying the content of the reciprocal exchanges within the programme. It also recommends developing an overall framework that is more agile and less bureaucratic, enabling a more dynamic and flexible execution of the programme. Finally, we saw a significant value-added in combining the exchange programme with more traditional programmes of institutional support, and we believe there is an opportunity for Norec in being more pro-active in encouraging or facilitating such bundling of initiatives.