23 SES 08 D, Education Policy Analysis: Methodological Challenges
In the literature on comparative institutional analysis, the relationship between institutions and actors are perceived as mutually constitutive (Jackson, 2010, p. 63). Institutions have framing properties and contribute to the shaping of actors’ preferences, interests and goals (Ibid). Actors on the other hand contribute to the continuous change of institutions through their actions and their reinterpretations of institutional values and rules. Organisations are likewise embedded in an institutional setting which facilitates and conditions how organisations form their strategies and make decisions on investment in skills. Companies’ strategies on human resource development can be perceived as the result of interaction of politics and the development of labour market institutions and organisations (Thelen, 2004).
The aim of this paper is to analyse the influence of LLL as an institutional setting for companies engaging in strategic human resource development in respectively Germany and Denmark. The study is part of a research project under the Seventh Framework Programme: LLLight-in-Europe: Appropriate Skills for Sustaining Better Jobs. One aim of the research project is to study how enterprises engage with their public policy environment and make use of and contribute to LLL policies. The aim of this paper is to provide a theoretical framing and hereby contribute to our understanding of the dialectics between companies and public institutions in regard to LLL (here defined narrowly as the continuous competence development of the work force).
In the paper, we shall be comparing Denmark and Germany which represent skills formation systems with both distinct differences and similarities. One similarity is the role of the social partners in the provision of initial vocational education and training through a dual training system involving the companies in the systematic training of skilled workers. Although, Denmark and Germany represent similar skills formations systems (the corporative model, see Greinert, 2005) the systems deviate markedly in terms of the provision of adult education and training. According to the latest statistics from Eurostat, 32% of the adult Danes participated in some form of adult education and training in 2012 compared to only 8% of the adult Germans (Eurostat, 2013). A central question is how (or whether) these differences are reflected in the companies’ human resource management strategies.
Another difference between the two states is the differences in welfare systems. Esping Andersen (1990) identifies three different types of welfare states: the continental/conservative, the Anglo-Saxon/liberal and the Nordic/social-democratic. Comparing countries income inequality and literacy inequality, Rubenson (2006) found that the countries tended to cluster based on their welfare state model and concluded that “The finding seems to suggest that inequalities in basic capabilities, as defined by literacy, are part of national structures and can be understood in terms of various forms of welfare-state regimes” (Rubenson, 2006, p. 333).
Our interest is the dialectics between the institutional setting and the human resource management strategies of the companies: How do companies take advantage of/reflect the national LLL institutions and not least how do they contribute to the change or continuity of these institutions? In the study we take our starting point in the companies and through a network analysis we define the arenas of interaction between the companies and different collective actors in the provision of LLL. We understand the formation of a ‘skills formation’ system as a dynamic process which facilitate certain human resource management strategies and impede others. In the study we look into the role of government, the role of the education and training system, the role of the social partners and not least the role of the companies.
Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Eurostat. (2013). Lifelong learning. EU Labour Force Survey Retrieved 29.01.2014, from Eurostat http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&init=1&language=en&pcode=tsdsc440&plugin=0 Greinert, W.-D. (2005). ‘Mass Vocational Education and Training in Europe. Classical Models of the 19th Century and Training in England, France, and Germany during the First Half of the 20th.’ (Vol. 118). Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Holford, J. (2013). ‘Conceptual model and questionnaire’, LLLight in Europe: Lifelong Learning, Innovation, Growth and Human Capital Tracks in Europe. Jackson, G. (2010). Actors and Institutions in Morgan et al.: Comparative Insitutitonal Analysis, Oxford University Press. Rhodes, R. A. W. (2006). Policy network analysis. In M. Moran, M. Rein & R. E. Goodin (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy. New York: Oxford University Press. Rubenson, K. (2006). The Nordic model of Lifelong Learning. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 36(3), 327-341. doi: 10.1080/03057920600872472 Thelen, K. (2004) How Institutions Evolve, Cambridge University Press.
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