Summer 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 2 // Research in Brief // 2RIB2

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Management and Marketing Strategies During Periods of Decline


Glenn J. Applebee
Program Coordinator
Cornell Cooperative Extension
Ithaca, New York

Management of decline is important-because if Extension continues with management practices based on previous growth and expansion, its survival as an organization is in jeopardy. This study identified some of the societal, organizational, and programmatic changes affecting the Cornell Cooperative Extension System.

Enrollment and staffing data were collected and analyzed for county groupings. Data were collected through a written survey and follow-up structured interviews from 114 program managers in Cornell Cooperative Extension county associations.

We found varying patterns of staffing and client enrollment: growth, stability, and decline in the system. In some instances, declines were dramatic. Client enrollment is the profit or loss indicator for Extension. Enrollment declines are often explained away with cliches such as "we don't worry about quantity, we focus on quality."

We found a need to become more externally focused for marketing our educational program efforts. One marketing problem is that Extension offerings are often attractive to populations that may not have the greatest need for educational programs.

Extension has a bimodal distribution of clientele with concentrations in ages 9-19 and 36 and over. The older group provides opportunity for growth, while the younger group provides demographic reasons for decline.

Many recommendations and avenues for further research were identified. If you'd like a 12-page overview of the research, contact me at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.