Meso organisations are established to promote economic development and improve competitiveness of a region by responding to a variety of permanent and temporary market and performance failures at the micro level. While they are the result of targeted meso policies, their success also depends on other policy measures to be effective. While meso organisations can perhaps make it easier for firms to identify ways to upgrade their technology or knowledge, there is a whole range of other interconnected features of the overall economic system that determine the investment climate and thus the framework conditions for upgrade efforts at the level of firms.

‘Assessment of meso organisations’ argues that there are four dimensions to improving meso organisations’ performance, along which each meso organisation can and should be assessed. The more strongly these dimensions are developed by a given organisation, the better it would be able to improve the competitiveness of the overall economic system. We are currently running experiments to turn these four dimensions into a practical, hands-on assessment tool for institutions at the meso level.

Four dimensions to improve meso organisations’ performance:

The first dimension is about the service offering of the organisation and its focus. This offering is often dominated by “supply push”, because underperforming markets hardly demand the kind of services that enable enterprises to upgrade. 

The second dimension is the responsiveness of the meso organisation to the “demand pull” from the micro level or, in other words, how well the meso organisation responds to shifts and changes in the demands of enterprises. 

A third dimension looks at the adaptiveness of the management team of the meso organisation and how it manages the resources at its disposal. 

The fourth dimension is about the institutional configuration and governance of the meso organisation, how transparently it is managed, and whether the industries it serves can make contributions to its strategy, investment decisions and performance. 

In our experience, it is possible to help the leadership team of a meso organisation embark on a journey of discovery of how to improve its offering by focusing on both the system around the organisation and the structure and performance within the organisation. This can, for instance, be done by helping the organisation to assess their target market, and reach out to the innovators, champions and most sophisticated buyers in the system. An internal focus is usually about helping the leadership team to improve the learning culture within the meso organisation and identify improvement opportunities. Instruments such as scenario planning are useful as they help the organisation to balance shorter and longer-term objectives, as well as competing demands for investment, recruitment and resource allocation. 

In the end, changing and adapting meso organisations is only possible if their leadership and broader stakeholder network have a real interest in and intent to improve the role of the organisation within a broader network.

Read Article 4 our our Annual Reflection research output for more detail on the four dimentions.