Bravo! Your Idea Has Legs. Now Comes the Hard Part: Replicating It

Between 1993 and 1996, researchers at Cornell University, New York State College of Human Ecology, Ithaca, N.Y., evaluated the process by which successful demonstration projects are replicated into real-world programs.

They specifically examined the replication process within four RWJF-funded national programs and one project, as well as to recommend effective replication methods.

Transforming successful demonstration projects into real-world programs is a relatively new endeavor in the social service field. It was anticipated that the findings would be disseminated and would assist RWJF and other funding agencies in designing programs.

Key Findings

  • The investigators identified two main replication strategies. These included:

    • simple replication, in which sites receive training and technical assistance in adopting the methods of a well-tested program.
    • developmental replication, in which a more flexible approach is taken for programs whose methods and outcomes have not been explored as well.
  • Among the investigators' conclusions:

    • Replication sites value one-to-one technical assistance more highly than any other kind of support.
    • Grant funds appear critical in getting replication projects started, but once momentum has been achieved, the importance of the funds decreases.
    • Organizations must buy into the project and provide the resources and personnel to implement and sustain it, instead of relying on grant funds.
    • It may take up to a decade to recruit a critical number of sites that have adopted the replication project.