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.


Hierarchies, networks and improvisation in education governance

Over the past three decades, major trends have transformed the context of educational governance and created new governance challenges. Partly in response to these trends new forms of governance have risen, relying less on strong centralised rational planning and more on decentralised actors and market forces. These new forms of governance have not always solved existing problems and sometimes created new problems. However, because of societal changes, returning to a strong central government with rational planning is no longer possible. This then raises the question what the next governance innovation should be, moving beyond the state and the market. While some propose governance networks as a promising avenue, the horizontal nature of networks creates tensions with the vertical, hierarchical organisation of ministries. This makes the position of civil servants working on the intersection of these vertical and horizontal logics of networks and hierarchies and their ability to cope with the tensions between them very important.


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