NIRA Research Report No. 20040033
Research on Current Issues Regarding International
and Cultural Exchange Activities
Focusing on Activity Evaluation
Summary of Recommendations
In recent years, both the necessity for international exchanges and the significance of such exchanges have increased. In Japan, however, international exchanges, and in particular cultural exchanges, have been seen as ends in themselves, and little attention has been paid to the analysis of concrete outcomes or the learning effect to be gained from such analyses. In addition, with few exceptions, organizations which are involved in international exchanges do not assess their projects with sufficient rigor.
Given this situation, this research project conducted a questionnaire survey and interviews to enable consideration of the most appropriate methods to be utilized in the assessment of international and cultural exchanges.
This research was based on the recognition of the tremendous importance of objective assessment of international exchanges, and of cultural exchanges in particular. It was therefore necessary to examine the current status of empirical assessment methodologies and to give consideration to ideal methodologies on that basis, attempting thereby to build a foundation for discussions which could lead to more useful and accurate assessments in the future. One of the other goals of this research was to consider measures to provide an impetus to the activities of organizations involved in international exchange activities, particularly corporate foundations, through the introduction of objective assessment systems. In specific terms, the project sought to encourage corporate foundations to increase the transparency of their activities through the active use of assessment methodologies, which would increase their social significance and consequently raise their level of activity. It aimed further to contribute to sound development and increased activity among NPOs involved in international and cultural exchanges.
This report makes the following recommendations to support future international and cultural exchange activities:
(1) Many organizations involved in international and cultural exchange in Japan are facing financial difficulties and are reducing the scale of their activities. Given this, the central and local governments will play important roles. However, when the central and local governments are directly involved in planning and subsidizing cultural exchange programs, it is important to seriously consider whether these programs are actually useful in contributing to the further development of independent administrative agencies, incorporated foundations, incorporated associations and cultural exchange organizations, or whether they hinder the development of these organizations.
(2) It will be necessary to examine and discuss the governance of international and cultural exchange organizations, particularly comparatively large-scale incorporated foundations and incorporated associations, including the roles of board members and trustees and the procedures to be followed in board meetings and meetings of trustees.
(3) Unless assessments are conducted with the aim of enabling improvement, development, and expansion, rather than to economize and scale down, it will be difficult to obtain understanding and cooperation from the organizations subject to assessment. This must always be considered when assessments are conducted. On the other hand, the subjects of assessment should be aware that assessment means the examination and verification of results, and is thus fundamentally necessary to enabling improvements to be made, to making projects more meaningful and to encouraging the organization to examine its own activities, and that there is therfore no reason to adopt a negative attitude towards the procedure. These considerations are also important in making the public more informed with regard to the advantages of project assessment.
(4) To promote international and cultural exchanges in the future, it is urgently necessary to foster program officers for incorporated foundations and other organizations. At present, very few institutions provide courses or lectures in cultural exchange policy. It would be desirable for numerous universities to establish cultural exchange and cultural policy departments in the future. However, we strongly recommend that for the time being, universities and non-profit organizations cooperate in establishing courses which also involve internships to foster program officers, register graduates of such courses as specialists in cultural exchange, and pave the way for them to play an active role in the field of international exchange.
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