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CFP: Governance of Knowledge Policies (ICPP 2015)

The International Conference on Public Policy (1-4 July 2015, Milan)

Session title: “Governance of Knowledge Policies”



  • Meng-Hsuan Chou, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (
  • Jens Jungblut, University of Oslo, Norway (
  • Pauline Ravinet, Université Lille 2, France (



Session abstract:

The governance of knowledge policies has now permeated all policy levels, from the local, national, regional to the global. These processes, however, are examined in disciplinary ‘silos’ – from science and higher education (policy) studies, international relations, comparative politics, and sociology to organisational studies. At the same time, they share at least three research foci, each one echoing stimulating debates within public policy research. Firstly, this panel demonstrates the added-value that studies of knowledge policies have for improving public policy understanding of (i) discourse and ideas. Specifically, questions concerning whether, how and why certain concepts such as excellence, globalism, regionalism, innovation, and so on, catalyse policy actors’ strategies, percolate into daily practices and how they are then weaved into the fabric of policies, organisations or systems. Knowledge policies constitute fascinating cases for scholars willing to “take ideas and discourse seriously” (Schmidt, 2010), studying policymaking after the “argumentative turn” (Fischer & Gottweis, 2012), or, from a different angle, wanting to explore the rational-choice argument that ideas are merely “hooks” for interests (Weingast, 1995).

Secondly, another research dimension on knowledge policies is to question how the dynamics of higher education, research and science have impacted (ii) the central organisations, i.e. universities and non-university research institutes, as well as the funding and regulatory agencies. This time, knowledge policies provide almost infinite cases to tackle the issue of interaction between policies and organisations – and therefore the connection between public policy research and organisational theory (Gornitzka, 1999). Seminal works in organisational sociology and implementation theory have all been fascinated by developments in higher education. For instance, Cohen, March & Olsen (1972) introduced ‘organised anarchy’ and the ‘garbage can model of decision-making’ to conceptualise processes of organisation within universities, while Cerych & Sabatier (1986) studied implementation of higher education in Europe. Their interest, especially on the role of ambiguity in policymaking, points to the potential that researching dynamics of knowledge policymaking has for addressing questions at the policy-organisation nexus.

Finally, there is also clear shared research interest in how such policy dynamics affect (iii) groups and individuals as “difficult” members (Mintzberg 1983) of such professional organisations, e.g. asking whether and how a potential “normalization” of universities (Brunsson & Sahlin-Andersson 2000; Musselin 2007) and their global differentiation/isomorphism clash with the normative foundations of science as a profession/vocation (Merton 1973; Weber 1946) or, even earlier, with the hitherto humanistic ideals of ‘socialising’ students by education.

This session invites researchers from across diverse disciplines to examine the multi-level governance of knowledge policies and politics, focusing on any of the above-mentioned dynamics as well as the role of actors in influencing them. We propose three sections – each addressing one of the three research foci identified above. All accepted papers must have a clear conceptual approach, preferably supported by empirical examples beyond a single case study.

To propose a paper for this session, please upload your abstract by 15th January 2015 HERE.

The abstract should include the research aim, the conceptual approach, the case(s) studied as well as potential methods and data. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact Meng-Hsuan Chou, Jens Jungblut, or Pauline Ravinet.


CFP: Regionalism from above, regionalism from below: multi-level governance of higher education and research (ECPR 2015)

Panel title: Regionalism from above, regionalism from below: multi-level governance of higher education and research

Abstract: Higher education and research policies appear as fascinating cases to explore the transformations of the role of the State in a globalized economy and society of knowledge. The now classical notion of multilevel-governance actually appears extremely useful to make sense of policy change in these domains.

Higher education and research policies have been transformed, with increasing governing power both to subnational and supranational structures. The elevating role of regions in higher education and research is mirrored by regional dynamics developing worldwide. As a result of regional integration on the one hand and devolution/federalization processes on the other, regions are playing an increasingly prominent role in contemporary global politics. The empirical case of knowledge-policy governance can thus contribute to the wider conceptual debate on territorial politics, regionalism and region-building.

How have States recomposed their role in the governance of knowledge policies in this context? Strands of literature on the world regions in the globalization of knowledge policies on the one hand and on the territorial politics of knowledge on the other, do not dialogue much together. This panel will propose to connect those works around the notion of regionalism, and open a discussion about how the rise of regions, both subnational and supranational, is a major feature of the transformations of knowledge policies. A particular attention will be dedicated to the circulation of actors and policy solutions between the subnational, national, and supranational levels.

Building on both empirical and theoretical perspectives the panel will explore the facets and implications of higher education regionalism in Europe and elsewhere highlighting the following issues: What are the regional territorial politics involved in the governance of knowledge policies? How does regionalism of higher education in Europe inform our understanding of international relations and of European foreign policy in particular? What are the features and implications of the higher education multi-level governance structure in Europe? How can the European case inform our understanding of other regions? How can the study of multi level governance of knowledge in other regions help us understand better the European situation ? How does the case of knowledge policies contribute to the conceptual understanding of regionalism?

To propose a paper for this panel please send an abstract of 500 – 1000 words until January 20th 2015 to Pauline Ravinet ( and Hannah Moscovitz (

CFP: Ideas in the global governance of knowledge (ECPR 2015)

Panel title: Ideas in the global governance of knowledge

Abstract: As the ECPR and the Europe of Knowledge section enter a new phase, this panel takes a reflective approach and invites contributions from around the world on the role of ideas in knowledge policy governance. Ideas are pervasive in all aspects of public policymaking at the national, regional and international levels. They act as deeply entrenched paradigmatic beliefs concerning how things should and ought to be done, as well as specific policy blueprints for resolving particular policy problems. Articulated through discourse and championed by ‘amplifiers’, ideas may chart the pathways of regional integration and international collaboration in unexpected ways. This panel invites contributions that explore the role that ideas play in regional and international research and higher education policy cooperation. By ‘role’, I refer to the independent or intervening effects that an idea – such as the ‘knowledge-based economy’, ‘world-class’, ‘regional hub’, the ‘Rise of Asia’ or the ‘Asian Century’, free movement of knowledge/fifth freedom, competitiveness, excellence, talent, internationalisation, ‘digital revolution’, ‘Single Market of Knowledge’ and so on – have had on the regional or global governance of knowledge policies. Papers in this panel are invited to address any of these questions: What are the prominent ideas in the international governance of knowledge policies (higher education, science and research) and how have they determined the evolution of the latter’s development? Are there visible national, regional or transnational champions of certain ideas and what strategies do they apply to promote them? Also, to what extent have these ideational champions collaborated with one another or do they work in isolation? How have ideas been translated into national or regional research and higher education policies? Could we identify a consistent discourse or policy frame associated with these ideas? Similarly, could we detect an emergent actor constellation opposing the promoted ideas? And, if so, what are the alternative discourses or policy frames and to what extent have they been successful?

To propose a paper for this panel please send an abstract of 500 – 1000 words until January 20th 2015 to Meng-Hsuan Chou ( The abstract should include the research aim, the conceptual approach, the case(s) studied as well as potential methods and data. The panel chair will then assess the proposals until January 30th 2015 and propose the panel en bloc to the section chairs. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact Meng-Hsuan Chou.

CFP: Rankings and the global governance of knowledge policies (ECPR 2015)

Panel title: Rankings and the global governance of knowledge policies

Abstract: Rankings and indicators have become central policy instruments in the global governance of knowledge policies. This panel investigates a specific phenomenon – university rankings – and how it reconstructs power within and across different geographical regions. Often linked to the international market economy, university rankings are now contributing to the diffusion of policy scripts and policy convergence.

It is commonly agreed, that global university rankings are not neutral instruments for making sense of external reality: (1) Claiming to be measurements of performance and quality rankings draw from and reinforce specific understandings of these qualities. Analysis of concepts, operational choices and discourses are ways for making sense of social rankings. (2) While university rankings have certain commonalities with measurements of physical quantities, most are inherently normative in depicting one end of the scale essentially ‘good’, the other ‘bad’ in a way that for example thermometers are not. The function of university rankings thus is both descriptive and prescriptive: they not only produce stand-point depictions of academic standings, they are meant to structure and steer policy-processes at all levels of decision making towards certain ideals. (3) As gross simplifications of complex reality – they allow easy comparisons between institutional units and political and cultural regions, they allow persuasive quantitative modelling and explanatory analyses, they allow attractive graphical presentations – they are disposed to receive attention in media and stakeholder groups all over the world. As such, annually published rankings are strong means to diffuse policy ideas and ideals. (4) The normatively framed comparative logic together with the high visibility increases competitive pressure between individuals, institutions, nations, and regions.

Many issues are still unclear or under dispute. In normative and political terms, there is no agreement about the worth of rankings and ranking practice in general, whether or not it is harmful by definition to assess academic practices in standardized terms of quality and performance. While some outright denounce university rankings, others take a more positive view in allowing that rankings may be beneficial for delimited purposes or in specified settings. In empirical terms, it is unclear how wide-ranging, deep and enduring is rankings’ role in global governance of knowledge. It is not yet clear if rankings will mainly push for policy convergence or foster differentiation: will global scripts be translated into local versions?; will we see real variation in institutional profiles as actors seek competitive edge over others? Lastly, while it has become common to state that ‘rankings are here to stay’, we may wonder whether the proliferation of rankings will at some point bring their demise: is it possible to uphold authority status as supply of rankings, measurements and data-sets increases?
The panel is open to theoretical and empirical papers that examine rankings as instruments of governance or governmental practice. The themes can be those discussed above or related; different perspectives across theoretical traditions are valued.

We are looking forward to your contributions. Please submit your paper proposals (title of the paper + short abstract + your name, institution and contact information) by email ( no later than 26 January 2015 as accepted proposals will be in the final panel proposal. For further information see

CFP: Global collaboration and competition in science, technology and innovation (ECPR 2015)

Panel title: Global collaboration and competition in science, technology and innovation

Fostering global collaboration and competition in science, technology and innovation is a policy priority. In research, processes of collaboration and competition are closely interconnected, as suggested by Robert Merton’s (1942) hybrid notion of ‘a competitive cooperation’. Research groups, companies and networks are collaborating to benefit from bringing together the highly specialized expertise and resources needed to address complex trans-national problems. At the same time, they are competing with each other for reputations, prestige, priority of discovery, best researchers and funding. Complex dynamics of collaboration and competition have been behind many discoveries and new technologies from the space race to the invention of computers.

While global collaboration and competition in research has a long history, today it is intensifying due to increasing scientific complexity, political and economic globalization, as well as the expanded use of information and communication technologies. Public policy promotes global cooperation and competition in research as a way to increase quality, creativity and efficiency.

This panel invites contributions that analyse whether and how diverse forms of global collaboration and competition (e.g. scholarly and business R&D networks, large-scale research infrastructures, researcher exchanges, joint laboratories, intergovernmental agreements) support the aforementioned policy objectives. Interdisciplinary papers are sought that draw on a variety of research methods, theories and empirical studies across the world. Relevant questions include: What are the driving forces (e.g. policies, business, self-organisation of the research community) behind the intensification of global research collaboration and competition? How do the processes of global research collaboration and competition interact? What are the tensions between cooperation and competition in global research? What are the negative consequences of intensifying global research collaboration and competition (e.g. fraud, increasing geographical concentration)? What challenges does increasing research cooperation and competition present for science, technology and innovation policy practice and studies?


This proposed panel is part of the section The global governance of knowledge: Europe of Knowledge in context at the ECPR General Conference 2015, 26- 29 August 2015, Montreal, Canada. To propose a paper for this panel, please send a 150 word abstract to Inga Ulnicane ( until January 20th, 2015. The abstract should include information about research question, conceptual and methodological approach, empirical material and findings. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact Inga Ulnicane.

CFP: Trade agreements and the supranational shaping of knowledge policies (ECPR 2015)

Panel title: Trade agreements and the supranational shaping of knowledge policies

Abstract: The pursuit of free trade agreements on a global, regional and bilateral level is intensifying, and increasingly these agreements are impinging on the areas of higher education and research. This panel examines the effects of casting education and research as ‘services’ from the perspective of institutions, ideas, instruments, and/or interests. Potential papers could clarify the role that free trade agreements have had on the global governance of knowledge policies and how that impacts national policymaking and sub-national actors.

The transatlantic location of this year’s ECPR conference, provides an ideal opportunity to engage with the recent Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being developed between the EU and the USA. The panel also welcomes papers which study other agreements and forums such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and the developing Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).

Contributions may consider how the dual purposes of education, for employability and to enhance civil society, are brought into the foreground as nations assess their willing to cooperate across national boundaries in formal trade agreements; the consequences of treating higher education as a commodity as opposed to a public good; the role of other supranational actors, such as the World Bank, OECD, IMF, UNESCO in shaping these agreements; or the differences in perspective and interests between advanced and developing/emerging economies.

Papers may address a range of key issues including: mobility of academic workers, accreditation and standards, MOOCS and new technologies of delivery, branch campuses, mergers, mutual degree recognition, intellectual property, and effects on open access initiatives. The panel is open to researchers in all fields and welcomes both a comparative perspective and case studies on aspects of a particular agreement.

This panel is part of the section: The global governance of knowledge policies: Europe of Knowledge in context. If you have a paper you feel would fit the panel’s topic please send a 150 word abstract to Beverly Barrett ( and Mitchell Young ( by January 20th, 2015.  Given the brevity of the abstract requirement, you are welcome to provide additional information related to the paper, particularly on research methodology.

CFP: Researching the governance of knowledge policies: methodological and conceptual challenges (ECPR 2015)

Panel title: Researching the governance of knowledge policies: methodological and conceptual challenges

Abstract: Studies on research policy and higher education often take the nation state as a starting point for analysis. Single country case studies and comparisons between individual countries seem to be the most common approaches. At the same time, governance of knowledge policies increasingly takes place in the context of globalisation and regional integration, and is of interest to various international organisations. In Europe, this shift is manifest in the focus on Europe of Knowledge. The question then is: how meaningful this single country approach is in an increasingly interconnected world? Do we end up in ‘methodological nationalism’ and/or eurocentrism if our point of departure is the nation state and/or Europe? Are there alternative methodologies to be used, and if so – what would this mean for these studies?

This panel invites papers focused on questions such as: Which role does the nation state actually play in studies of higher education and research policy, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach? Which units should we focus on if we want to avoid methodological nationalism and eurocentrism on the one hand but still on the other hand want to compare different policy designs of higher education and research policy? Are there sector-specific conceptual challenges for researching governance of knowledge in a multi-level policy context? What are the consequences of this for both research design and methodology? Furthermore, what kind of differences in terms of methodology, research design etc. can be identified between higher education and research policy studies?

Papers for this panel could e.g. examine the methodologies used in higher education and research policy studies – empirically and/or theoretically, including focus on comparative designs. Papers could also discuss the use of other entities than the nation state: institutions, regions, traditions, ideas, cultures etc.

To propose a paper for this panel please send an abstract of 500 – 1000 words until January 20th 2015 to Mads Sørensen (, Mari Elken ( The abstract should include the research aim, the conceptual approach, the case(s) studied as well as potential methods and data. The panel chairs will then assess the proposals until January 30th 2015 and propose the panel en bloc to the section chairs. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact Mads Sørensen and Mari Elken.