23 SES 08 B, Inside a Global Player: Looking at the OECD ‘from within’
This paper expounds on the OECD’s three overlapping constitutive dimensions, and it introduces the organization and its complexity (Centeno, 2017). The paper stresses that a textured understanding of the OECD is needed, in order to grasp its historical development and present powerful position. The dimension of policy actor addresses the OECD’s capabilities for autonomy and influence. It answers the question of what enables the organization to have the capability of producing legitimate knowledge. It depicts three essential features of the organization: its Secretariat, its profile and working methods, and its multilateral analysis. The dimension of arena stresses that the OECD is far from being a neutral multilateral forum. The organization’s internal dynamics and institutional specificities call attention for the intricacies of the OECD as an intergovernmental meeting place, which nevertheless is shaped by a precise organizational architecture. This provides the conditions for the various constellations of social relations and occurrences. The paper explores the ‘actors within the actor’ and the complexity of the institutional setting provided by the OECD. While the dimension of arena focus on the internal environment, the dimension of instrument seeks to put emphasis on the organization’s embeddedness in the external environment. The OECD operates in a broader political context with which the organization must interact. This dimension allows analysing the OECD as an interactive and reactive player, which can also be instrumental. This paper follows the path of previous studies (e.g. Martens and Jakobi 2010), which emphasized the need for further research on these two dimensions, because they enable the understanding of how dynamics and working proceedings impact the organization’s agendas. In brief, the OECD is endowed with the capabilities to be a major producer, diffuser and legitimator of educational knowledge. However, the organization is also an arena where heterogeneous actors have contrasting visions and dissimilar interests. The diverging understandings and positioning are frequently hidden beyond the veil of common frameworks and metanarratives. Besides, out-of-house constellations and motivations frequently set new internal conditions and institutional challenges. The paper draws on the qualitative content analysis of unpublished internal documents, which were written or considered within the working scope of the Education Committee and the CERI (e.g. meeting minutes; programmatic and synthesis documents) from the 1960 to the 1990. This analysis is complemented by the information gathered from informal interviews to members of the OECD staff, national administrators and experts (2010-2012), and a systematic review of the literature.
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. Brechin, Ness (2013). Looking Back at the Gap: International Organizations as Organizations Twenty-Five Years Late. Journal of International Organizations Studies, 4(1), 14-39. 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. Henry, Lingard, Rizvi, Taylor. 2001. The OECD, globalisation and education policy. Amsterdam: The IAU Pergamon Press. Kallo, Rinne (Eds.). (2006). Supranational Regimes and National Education Policies: Encountering Challenge: Finnish Educational Research Association. Mahon, McBride (Eds.). (2008). The OECD and Transnational Governance. Vancouver and Toronto: UBC Press. Martens, Jakobi (2010). Mechanisms of OECD governance international incentives for national policy-making. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199591145.001.0001 Mundy (1998). Educational Multilateralism and World (Dis)Order. Comparative Education Review, 42(4), 448-478. Woodward (2009). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. London ; New York: Routledge.
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