Open seminar: Theorising Dynamics in Education Policy Making

Presenter: Jaako Kauko, University of Helsinki

Dr. Jaako Kauko, University of Helsinki. Photo: Private


The presentation introduces one model for analysing dynamics in higher education policy-making and discusses its theoretical and empirical basis.

Theoretically the model draws on the conceptual history of political contingency, theories of the policy process, and previous research on higher education dynamics. Political contingency describes the room of action that different actors observe, shape and change, whereas policy threads refer to the historical development of a problématique around a policy. Policy process theories help to focus these ideas of contingency. Dynamics combines the other concepts, analysing changes of contingency inside a complex system by focusing on policy threads. The core idea in analysing dynamics is to focus on the attributes of interrelations rather than of actors.

Empirically the model has been tested and developed in the context of Finnish higher education by means of 25 interviews and a large documentary corpus. Based on the material, four policy threads are identified and analysed in their historical context. Each of the policy threads represents one possible dynamics identified in the theoretical model: gridlock, friction, consensual change, and reform.

The presentation concludes that, first, the dynamics are different depending on the policy thread. Second, the tacit processes seem to be the most influential. Third, dynamics are much related to changes external to the higher education system and the changing positions of the actors. Fourth, the analysis points out some key features of Finnish higher education system.


Published Mar. 14, 2013 12:37 PM - Last modified Apr. 16, 2015 3:21 PM