23 SES 06 C, Internationalisation, Neoliberalism and Changes in Education
When talking about the relationship between (national) policy in relation to lifelong learning and the policy at enterprise level, we often refer to how lifelong learning policy in the enterprises is influenced by national and international policy. In this paper, we are interested in looking at the relationship the other way around. That is, how do enterprises with strong business and LLL track records contribute to policies on LLL? By enterprises we here refer both to individual enterprises and industrial or similar organisations/associations representing the enterprises.
Referring to multiple streams theory (Kingdon, 1984; Zahariadis, 2003), enterprises and industrial associations are seen as potential policy entrepreneurs, able to affect the political agenda. According to multiple stream theory, political decisions are the result of the coupling of three streams: the politics stream, the policy stream and the problem stream. Policy entrepreneurs are agents promoting specific solutions/policy by taking advantage of windows of opportunities that opens in one of the three streams or actively stimulating windows to open. By treating enterprises and industrial associations as policy entrepreneurs we thus claim that they are not only recipients for national and transnational lifelong learning policy but might also be involved in shaping the policy.
In looking at the influence of enterprises and their associations, the paper also draws on theory on policy networks as governance (Rhodes, 2006). Sørensen and Torfing (2005) define governance networks as consisting of autonomous but interdependent actors interacting through negotiation. These negotiations “take place within a regulative, normative, cognitive and imaginary framework” (Sørensen & Torfing, 2005, p. 203). They further define the framework as to some extent self-regulating and as contributing to some extent to “the production of public purpose” (Sørensen & Torfing, 2005, p. 203). In line with this definition, in our analysis, we treat the enterprises and their organisations as examples of actors in governance networks. In an Irish study, Hardiman (2006) describes a relationship between social partners and the broader policy process characterised by “a complex and flexible network of bipartite and tripartite negotiating capabilities, policy working groups, and consultative mechanisms” (Hardiman, 2006, p. 344). The description, however, not only fits Ireland, but can be attached to other European countries as well. In a study of efficient strategies for lifelong learning in the Nordic countries, Ehlers et al. (2011) concludes that it is common to the Nordic countries that social partners are involved in policy formulation related to lifelong learning. Further, Denmark is often characterised as a negotiated economy (e.g. Pedersen, 2006).
From this perspective, our interest is to understand the complex interplay between companies and the institutional setting for LLL. If companies are understood as policy entrepreneurs what is then their role in creating opportunities for advancing policies that foster high skills among their workforce.
Ehlers, S., Wärvik, G.-B., Larson, A., Thång, P.-O., Geiger, T. (ed.) (2011). Effektive stratgier for livslang læring i de nordiske lande [Efficient strategies for lifelong learning in the Nordic countries]. København: Nordisk Ministerråd. Hardiman, N. (2006). Politics and Social Partnership: Flexible Network Governance. The Economic and Social Review, 37(3), 343–374. Holford et al. (2013). Conceptual model and questionnaire. Project delivery: LLLIGHT in Europe. Kingdon, J. W. (1984). Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. Lawn, M. & Grek, S. (2012). Europeanizing Education Governing a new policy space. Oxford: Symposium Books. Pedersen, O. K. (2006). Corporatism and beyond: The Negotiated Economy. In J. L. Campbell, J. A. Hall & O. K. Pedersen (Eds.), National Identity and the Varieties of Capitalism. The Danish Experience (pp. 245-270). Copenhagen: DJØF Publishing. Rhodes, R. A. W. (2006). Policy network analysis. In M. Moran, M. Rein & R. E. Goodin (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy (pp. 425-447). Oxford, USA: Oxford University Press. Sørensen, E., & Torfing, J. (2005). Network Governance and Post-Liberal Democracy. Administrative Theory and Praxis, 27(2), 197-237. Zahariadis, N. (2003). Ambiguity and Choice in Public Policy. Political Decision Making in Modern Democracies. Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press.
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