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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

Soft Governance by Hard Fact? The OECD as a Knowledge Broker in Education Policy

International Relations
Social Policy
Dennis Niemann
Universität Bremen
Dennis Niemann
Universität Bremen
Kerstin Martens
Universität Bremen

As the policy field of education has become increasingly internationalized over the last two decades, international organizations, like the OECD, play an increasingly decisive role in the diffusion of knowledge, monitoring, and research in global education policy. Although the OECD lacks any binding or coercive governance instruments in relation to states, nor can it provide material incentives for compliance, it has nevertheless successively expanded its influence regarding education. Instead, from a perspective of social constructivism, we argue that the transmission of ideas and information generated through ratings and rankings can be viewed as a crucial governance tool for IO influence. Our article seeks to analyze how the OECD uses large scale education assessments to promote the economically-based idea of human capital and related learning techniques in education policy – thus influencing national education systems. Furthermore, we argue that the OECD and its distinctive approach of soft governance through putative hard fact may become a role model for other IOs, both in the field of education and beyond.
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