The role of the OECD in the construction of school autonomy with accountability as a global policy model


 Presenter (s) Clara Fontdevila, UAB; Antoni Verger, UAB, Lluís Parcerisa, UAB

The OECD has played a key role in the global dissemination of school autonomy with accountability (SAWA) as a global model of education governance. This presentation aims to understand the practices and forms of agency through which the OECD has developed and disseminated SAWA as an instrument model of governing education, despite the modesty of its legal and financial instruments and limited membership. Drawing on the results of a systematic literature review combined with a documentary analysis of OECD publications and working documents, the study analyses three governance mechanisms through which these reforms are being promoted by the organization: data collection, education policy evaluation, and the generation of policy ideas through different knowledge products and policy spaces. Results show that the OECD’s role in policy transfer dynamics far surpasses agenda setting or knowledge brokerage. Rather, the OECD plays a proactive role in the generation of policy solutions, by not only theorizing them, but also matching them to a wide range of problems and framing them so they can accommodate different political agendas. Additionally, the OECD’s reliance on soft governance mechanisms and ideational power enables it to extend its influence beyond its membership. Overall, the potential for OECD governance mechanisms to advance the SAWA agenda appears to lie in the OECD’s capacity to open a political opportunity window to advance policy change.

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