23 SES 08 B, Inside a Global Player: Looking at the OECD ‘from within’
This symposium aims at examining the OECD from the perspective of what takes place inside the organization. The papers delve into the OECD ‘black box’ by taking as primary sources internal documents, interviews, and ethnographic accounts of meetings and events. In focusing on these little explored sources, they offer a nuanced perspective of how the OECD became a major global player, and how it maintains this position.
The OECD has been under much scholarly examination. Studies have highlighted the power of the organization in framing global educational agendas and influencing education policies worldwide. Its impact on education policies in Europe has been well documented. Yet less is known about what takes place inside the organization.
The starting point is that the OECD is a complex intergovernmental organization with three overlapping constitutive dimensions, those of actor, arena and instrument. This perspective draws on traditional international relations studies’ analyses, but elaborates them further based on contributions from global governance, historical, organizational and constructivist approaches (see ‘symposium descriptor references’ below).
The dimension of policy actor highlights policy agency and the OECD’s capabilities for autonomy and influence. The OECD is an autonomous and influential policy actor because it has the capability to produce legitimate knowledge and thereby to shape interpretative horizons. This enables the organization to behave autonomously from its constituency. The dimension of arena stresses the organization’s internal dynamics and institutional specificities. It stresses the embeddedness of the OECD policies in its in-house environment, while the dimension of instrument seeks to capture the interplay between in-house and out-of-house constellations and motivations. The latter addresses, on the one hand, how different actors act on the OECD with different purposes. On the other hand, it also highlights the organization’s embeddedness in its external socio-political context. These two dimensions put forward that the organization does not operate in a vacuum.
In looking behind the scenes of the OECD’s work, the four papers illuminate different aspects of the OECD’s constitutive dimensions, as well as their overlap. Together, the papers cover the entire lifespan of the organization, as well as different areas of the OECD’s educational activities.
The first introductory paper expounds on the three overlapping constitutive dimensions. It introduces the OECD from a renewed angle, based both on original historical research and existing literature. The second paper presents a historical inquiry and explores how the OECD secured organizational survival since its beginnings. The paper illustrates how the overlapping of the OECD’s three constitutive dimensions is at the basis of the organization’s international empowerment.
While the first two papers provide a general and historical account of the OECD, the last two explore particular fields of work and focus on recent activities. The third paper zooms in on higher education policies and research. Drawing on interview material and the analysis of the OECD documents and publications in the 1990s and early 2000s, the author elaborates on the role and place of the organization in higher education development. The paper illuminates the constitutive dimensions of actor, by looking into the nature of the OECD’s capabilities for influence, and of arena, by drawing particularly on the field of higher education. The fourth paper provides a vivid account of one of the most controversial educational issues: international large-scale assessments (ILSAs). The author draws on interviews with OECD’s staff and ethnographic accounts of OECD events to illuminate important aspects of how ILSA research takes places. It illustrates further the OECD’s three constitutive dimensions and their overlaps. It particularly contributes to an understanding of OECD’s dimension of arena, by focusing on the multiple voices, practices and approaches.
Archer (1992). International organizations (2nd ed.). London/New York: Routledge. Barnett, Finnemore (2004). Rules for the world : international organizations in global politics. Ithaca, N.Y. ; London: Cornell University Press. Bloem (2015). The OECD directorate for education as an independent knowledge producer through PISA. In Kotthoff & Klerides (Eds.), Governing educational spaces. Knowledge, teaching, and learning in transition. Rotterdam: Sense. Bürgi (2016). Systemic management of schools: the OECD’s professionalisation and dissemination of output governance in the 1960s. Paedagogica Historica, 52(4), 408–422. Centeno (2017). The OECD’s Educational Agendas: Framed from Above, Fed from Below, Determined in Interaction. A Study on the Recurrent Education Agenda. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Hamilton, Maddox, Addey (2015). Literacy as Numbers: Researching the Politics and Practices of International Literacy Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kallo (2009). OECD Education Policy: A Comparative and Historical Study Focusing on the Thematic Reviews of Tertiary Education. Jyväskylä: FERA. Tröhler (2015). The medicalization of current educational research and its effects on education policy and school reforms. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 36(5), 749–764. Wende (2011). The Global Institutions: The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. In Handbook on Globalisation and Higher Education, King, Marginson and Naidoo (eds), 95−113. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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