28 SES 06 A, Transnational Knowledge Networks and Policy Coalitions: Social network analyses of the 2014 Danish and the 2016 Norwegian school reform
The three papers within this symposium reflect on two policy studies that applied social network analysis (SNA). The first paper presents the 2014 Danish school reform, and the second the 2016 Norwegian school reform. The third paper finally addresses the research questions, methodologies, and findings of the two case studies from a comparative perspective. The symposium ends with a discussant who comments on the lessons learned from the social network analyses.
Both studies were guided by research questions that are relevant in globalization studies in education, notably, in policy borrowing and lending research (Schriewer, 2003; Steiner-Khamsi, 2012; Waldow, 2012): how do national policy actors use international knowledge (including international-large scale assessments such as PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS, ICCS, etc.) at the stages of agenda setting and policy formulation? The collaboration between the researchers at the three universities— Danish School of Education, Aarhus University (Denmark), Teachers College, Columbia University (USA), and the University of Oslo (Norway), began in 2015.
The overarching themes for both studies were (i) “externalization” (use of international references), (ii) types of international references, and (iii) the choice of reference societies (Nordic versus international), and (iii). In addition, each of the two studies identified research questions that are of specific interest in the given national context. Therefore the third paper, presented in this panel, compares similarities and differences between the two studies, and identifies a few priorities for future research.
Methodologically, both studies first selected a sample of source documents that were relevant for the respective reform in the two countries. In a next step, all references listed in the source documents were entered in a database (1st degree documents). In order to examine the relationships between documents in the dataset, we used UCINET 6.289 (Borgatti, Everett, & Freeman, 2002). Because the dataset includes directed data (where document X cites document Y, but document Y does not cite document X), we produced two centrality measures: in-degree and out-degree. The “in-degree” measure is equal to the total of all incoming citations for a given document. If a document is cited many times, it means that the document is considered prominent or important in the context of making an argument. The “out-degree” measure is equal to the total of all outgoing citations for a given document. If a document is citing many other documents, it means that the document is influential because it relies on many sources. In addition, we used in the Norwegian study “co-citations” (texts that are cited by the same documents) as an important measure to understand shared knowledge.
The use of relational data, rather than descriptive statistics or causal analyses, lends itself for the study of transnational policy interaction processes (Wasserman & Faust, 1994). The social network analysis tool enabled the research team to identify and discuss policy coalition processes (Danish case study) and authoritative references used by government to justify the reform (Norway case study), respectively. Apart from reflecting on the role of externalization, international large-scale assessments, and global norm-setting by international authors or organizations, both studies managed to specify central and policy knowledge networks that were formed over a period of ten years preceding the respective reform. Different from what was expected from the onset, the differentiation between “receptors” and “translators”—commonly made in policy borrowing research, was difficult to uphold empirically.
Borgatti, S. P., Everett, M. G., & Freeman, L. C. (2002). Ucinet for Windows: Software for social network analysis. Schriewer, J. (2003). Globalisation in Education: Process and Discourse. Policy Futures in Education, 1(2), 271-283. doi:10.2304/pfie.2003.1.2.6 Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2012). Understanding Policy Borrowing and Lending. Building Comparative Policy Studies. In G. Steiner-Khamsi & F. Waldow (Eds.), Policy borrowing and lending in education (Vol. 2012, pp. 3-17). London: Nichols. Waldow, F. (2012). Standardisation and legitimazy. Two central concepts in research on educational borrowing and lending. In G. Steiner-Khamsi & F. Waldow (Eds.), Policy Borrowing and Lending in Education (pp. 4111-4427). London: taylor & Francis Group. Wasserman, S., & Faust, K. (1994). Social network analysis: Methods and applications (Vol. 8): Cambridge university press.
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