Soft governance in education: The PISA study and the Bologna Process in Switzerland
This paper analyzes the importance of governance of international organizations (IOs) to Swiss policy making in the field of education. The focus is on the Bologna Process driven by the European Commission, and the 'Programme for International Student Assessment' (PISA) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The theoretical framework draws on sociological institutionalism and rationalism. The results demonstrate that IOs gave impulses for domestic reforms by applying diverse governance instruments. National transformation capacities of veto-players and cultural guiding principles on education in Switzerland were not able to hinder these impulses as supposed. Instead, the empirical findings show a surprisingly high impact of IO governance instruments, particularly of standard setting, coordinative activities and discursive dissemination on reforms in Swiss education policy-making. This is because IO governance modified domestic guiding principles on education so that they matched those of the IOs. Another reason is that the domestic level strategically used the international initiatives of PISA and Bologna to overcome long-standing backlog of reform.
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