Kansas Business Review Abstracts

Vol.20, No.1, Fall 1996

ROPI--Return on Public Investment for KTEC: Current Issues in Evaluating Technology Transfer

by David Burress and Pat Oslund, Institute for Public Policy and Business Research, University of Kansas.

This article describes the Return on Public Investment system in general and presents examples of the system's application to the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, touching on some examples of the many issues that are involved, such as goals and benefit-cost analysis. ROPI is an innovative approach to program evaluation, which has been designed to combine the best features of multi-criterion outcome evaluation and benefit-cost evaluation while at the same time addressing some of their deficiencies.

In its current state, the ROPI system has several key features that make it an appropriate tool for the general evaluation of economic development programs. At the same time, like any evaluation system, the ROPI system has a number of shortcomings. While not unique to ROPI, nevertheless these shortcomings reduce the accuracy or usefulness of its results. The ROPI researchers hope to resolve the shortcomings in the future.

The Effective Labor Force in Kansas: Employment, Unemployment, and Underemployment

by Robert H. Glass, Charles Krider, Director, and Kevin Nelson, Institute for Public Policy and Business Research, University of Kansas.

Who are the employed, unemployed, and underemployed persons in Kansas? During the 1994 Kansas legislative session, the legislature requested a study of underemployment in Kansas. The final report suggests that the basic strategies for two policy areas--economic development and job training--might need to be reviewed in light of our empirical results.

Economic Development: Unemployment has historically been low in Kansas relative to the rest of the nation; this report indicates that underemployment in Kansas is greater than unemployment, but still low. Kansas does not have a large group of workers that need any job they can find; in fact, more than 11 percent of the labor force, two-thirds of which are full-time employees, is in training to get a better job. Finally, while nationwide 6.3 percent of the labor force has two or more jobs, the figure for Kansas is nearly 5 percent higher at 11.2 percent. These facts suggest that Kansas should have an economic development strategy aimed at bringing high-quality, well-paying jobs to the state. The strength of Kansas' human capital is not in its numbers but in its willingness to work hard and in its willingness to get more schooling and training.

Job Training: Tied to an economic development strategy aimed at bringing in high-quality, well-paying jobs is the need to demonstrate the existence of an available labor force for the employers who are being asked to move to Kansas. Kansas does not have a large reservoir of underemployed highly-skilled labor. What Kansas does have is a large group of individuals willing to get additional schooling or training. Our survey suggests that at any particular point in time the number of individuals seeking additional schooling or training is 140,000 workers, about 100,000 of whom are full-time employees. We suggest that if a Kansas economic development strategy of bringing in high-quality, well-paying jobs is to be successful, it must be tied to schooling and job training.

Report of the Kansas Task Force on Internet Access for Schools and Public Libraries: Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations

by David Burress, Norman Clifford, Charles Krider, Director, and Pat Oslund, Institute for public Policy and Business Research, University of Kansas.

The Task Force on Internet Access was appointed to investigate the state of Internet connectivity among Kansas public libraries and schools, to form conclusions about the problems faced by public libraries and schools in Kansas regarding Internet connectivity and related issues, and to make recommendations for solutions to those problems. One of the problems studied was how to provide a satisfactory level of Internet connectivity to Kansas public schools and libraries at an affordable and equitable cost.

The Task Force found that in order to be competitive, all Kansas public schools and full-time libraries should be connected to the Internet with direct connections by the year 2000. Also, Internet access should be extended to the level of the individual classroom, the individual student, and the individual library patron. E-mail addresses should be provided as widely as is feasible.

Do Institutional Investors Make Good Corporate Watchdogs?

by Mark Hirschey, Professor, School of Business, University of Kansas.

The rapid pace of technical change and global competitive forces with astounding speed and strength have caused many to fundamentally rethink the role of the large modern corporation as we approach the 21st century. Are these traditional organizations obsolete, or can they be reinvented to better provide the types of high-quality goods and services demanded of today's highly-informed consumers? More importantly, is the competitive process sufficiently dynamic to force large corporations to adapt on an on-going basis so as to deal effectively with computer-aided competition?

The Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act of 1996: Effects on the Kansas Agricultural Economy

by Terry L. Kastens, Assistant Professor, Allen M. Featherstone, Professor, and James Mintert, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University.

This article explores the effects of the FAIR Act on Kansas agriculture. It begins with a brief historical perspective on U.S. agricultural price and income support legislation and identifies important departures of the FAIR Act from previous legislation. The analysis proceeds by contrasting expected outcomes under FAIR with farm legislation in place prior to 1996. Comparisons of expected income and variability of income are made and differences across Kansas geographical regions are highlighted.

The FAIR Act of 1996 marks a dramatic shift in American farm policy because government payments are no longer directly tied either to production levels or commodity prices. As a result, government payments to farmers will no longer act as an income stabilizer, rising in years of declining crop prices and falling during years of rising crop prices. Although government payments to farmers are projected to decline throughout the seven year period covered by the Act, payments to Kansas farmers in 2002 will still be 63 percent of their 1996 level.

Kansas State Trade Promotion: Problems and Prescriptions

by Robert Van Horn, formerly Director of the Trade Development Division, Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing.

State trade offices around the country, and the Kansas Trade Development Division in particular, must be able to prove they add value to the export promotion process if they are to survive. If trade offices can focus on firms with high export potential, work more closely with public and private sector multiplier organizations, and find ways to cooperate more closely with each other, then they can increase the number of successful exporters in their states. The offices should be closed if they do not add value.

The Outlook for Kansas and the Nation: 1996 Update

by Norman Clifford, Institute for Public Policy and Business Research, University of Kansas.

The national economy will grow moderately in 1996, and the Kansas economy is expected to grow at about the same rate as during the last two years.

The Institute for Public Policy and Business Research

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