Governing Education in a Complex World

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What models of governance are effective in complex education systems? In all systems an increasing number of stakeholders are involved in designing, delivering and monitoring education. Like our societies, education systems are increasingly diverse regarding students, teachers and communities, as well as the values and identities we expect education to deliver. These trends have increased the complexity of education systems, leaving decision makers on all governance levels with the question of how to successfully manoeuvre in this highly dynamic policy area.

Governing Education in a Complex World addresses key challenges involved in governing modern education systems, looking specifically at complexity, accountability, capacity building and strategic thinking. The publication brings together research from the OECD Secretariat and invited chapters from international scholars to provide a state of the art analysis and a fresh perspective on some of the most challenging issues facing educational systems today.

Creating the open, dynamic and strategic governance systems necessary for governing complex systems is not easy. This volume challenges our traditional concepts of education governance through work on complexity, collaborative networks and decision-making. In doing so it sets the agenda for thinking about the inclusive and adaptable systems necessary for governing education in today’s world. The volume will be a useful resource for those interested in education governance and complexity, particularly policy-makers, education leaders, teachers and the education research community.



Complexity in a bureaucratic-federalist education system

On the case of Austria the chapter explores some main issues of complexity in centralised systems. In a first part, the chapter describes that while most sources of complexity in centralised systems generally add to those found in decentralised systems, the degree of centralization (or decentralisation) should not be perceived as dichotomy as crucial for a systems structural complexity is its specific setup. Building on this, the chapter describes how the tensions between policy and politics as basic dimensions of governance and policy making are greater in bureaucratic-federalist systems such as Austria due to their structurally complex setup. An important aspect of the whole interrelations in a centralised system lies in the fact that much part of the complexity is hidden behind the existing formal regulations that superficially seem to “rationalise“ practices, however, might create a substantial gap between formal structures and informal practices.


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