This paper seeks to better understand the influence of international organizations within the national policy domain by examining the OECD’s use of peer reviews. Focusing on one such review in the Netherlands, it asks: why are these reviews commissioned, who is involved, how are ideas about educational governance promoted, and how do they impact national policy. Data comes from inter- views with OECD and ministry of education members who were central to the review process. Findings show that policy influence is exercised through subtle mechanisms including socialization, net- working and negotiation. Both parties sought to benefit from the review, particularly from the OECD’s perceived reputation as an ‘external expert,’ able to redirect politicized issues into more tech- nical channels. Further, the Netherlands’ status as a ‘good student’ and the partially restricted voice of the OECD in the Dutch context appear significant factors impacting the nature of the review pro- cess and national policy outcomes.
This chapter aims at understanding the role of the OECD in the development and international dissemination of SAWA policies. Specifically, the chapter analyses the governance mechanisms through which these reforms are being promoted by the OECD, namely, data gathering, education policy evaluation, and the generation of policy ideas through different knowledge products and policy spaces. Methodologically, the chapter is based on a systematic literature review of a corpus of 33 papers, which we triangulate with official documents produced by the OECD. The chapter is structured as follows. In the first part, we present our research framework, which covers both our theoretical approach and our methods. In the second part, we present our main results, which we organize according to the different governance mechanisms articulated by the OECD around SAWA reforms. In the last part, we pick up the main points in a concluding discussion.
Over the last decades, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has acquired an increasingly relevant and authoritative role in the global governance of education. The influence of the OECD in education owes much to the greater focus of this international organization on the production of new sources of quantitative data, and to the comparative perspective through which these data is approached (Grek, 2009; Martens & Jakobi, 2010). This shift has been driven by different data-gathering initiatives, among which the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) stands out. Since its first edition in the year 2000, PISA has been administered every three years in an increasing number of countries. Nearly 80 countries have participated in the 2018 edition. According to different observers, PISA has represented a turning point for the OECD and has consolidated its leading role within the global education field (Niemann & Martens, 2018). The success of PISA relies, on the one hand, on its capacity to commensurate complex educational processes, such as teaching and learning, in concrete numerical indicators and, on the other, on the country comparisons that result from this quantification exercise (Martens, 2007; Grek, 2009).