International Organisations and the Shared Construction of Policy ‘Problems’: Problematisation and Change in Education Governance in Europe

Jul. 15, 2010

Source: European Educational Research Journal, Volume 9 Number 3, p. 396‑406. (2010).

Over recent years, research has shown the ways that national governments have seemingly ceded some of their autonomy in education policy development to international organisations (IOs) in the context of globalisation and one of its conduits, Europeanisation.

This paper develops the idea that IOs, and particularly the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), have had significant policy influence within the context of education policy development in the European education space.

The article focuses on an examination of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the more recent Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) in order to discuss processes of problematisation and normalisation of the notions of ‘skills’ and ‘competencies’ by the two major European IOs, the OECD and the European Commission.

The article examines the ways both concepts have turned into a policy problem in need of soft governance through new data, standards and policy solutions.
The article presents work in progress as part of the new project Transnational Policy Learning: a comparative study of OECD and EU education policy in constructing the skills and competencies agenda, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

It is therefore a speculative article, setting out the research agenda and explaining the reasons why the construction of policy problems at the European education policy level needs to be further problematised itself by the research community.

Updated: Jan. 25, 2011