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CFP: Transnational actors in knowledge policies – ideas, interests and institutions (2016 ECPR)

Panel: Transnational actors in knowledge policies – ideas, interests and institutions

  • Co-chairs: Tatiana Fumasoli (University of Oslo) – and Martina Vukasovic (Ghent University) – 
  • Co-discussants (TBC): Åse Gornitzka (University of Oslo) and Simona Piattoni (Universty of Trento and University of Agder)

Apart from supranational and intergovernmental dynamics, European knowledge policy-making is marked also by a transnational dimension related to the involvement of non-state actors in decision-making (Elken & Vukasovic, 2014; Fumasoli, 2015b; Piattoni, 2010). These non-state actors are often organized across nation-states and include both collective actors – academic and university associations (e.g. European Academies, European University Association), students and staff unions (e.g. European Students Union, Education International), funding and quality assurance agencies (e.g. European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education) – and individuals (experts and individuals working for the collective actors).

Some of these are, in organizational studies’ terminology, meta-organizations (organizations of organizations) with complex internal structures, membership and identity (Ahrne & Brunsson, 2008). We consider meta-organizations those organizations that have institutional membership exclusively, or have institutional membership along with individual membership. In political science, such organizations are considered to be interest groups, organizations with an explicit political mandate to influence decision-makers at various governance levels (Beyers, Eising, & Maloney, 2008). They are often seen as spokespersons of the various stakeholders, expected to increase the legitimacy of decisions made (Moravcsik, 2002; Neave & Maassen, 2007). In addition, these organizations provide communication platforms and can act as sites of social learning and persuasion about appropriateness of specific ideas, norms and values, thus facilitating cross-national policy platform and socialization of actors (Checkel, 2003; Voegtle, Knill, & Dobbins, 2011). A perspective from the sociology of professions characterizes these transnational organizations as pursuing professional development, protecting their professional jurisdiction, and fostering their professional identity (Freidson, 2001; Larson, 2013). Those are traditionally structured around scientists- and scholars’ individual membership, and focus on a distinctive discipline. However these organizations might display multiple types of membership as well (Fumasoli, 2015a), and might activate themselves as interest groups, insofar they consider that their concerns need to be addressed in policy arenas (Truman, 1993 cited in Beyers et al., 2008, p. 1107).

Apart from operating across nation-states, these actors also operate across governance levels (e.g. European and national, federal and state), bringing new ideas, advancing the interests of their constituencies and re-shaping the institutional arrangements of policy-making in the area of knowledge. As such, they are uniquely positioned to influence policy formation (including agenda-setting, policy design and policy-decision), as well as policy implementation and policy evaluation.

Yet, despite their important role in governance and societal dynamics in general, such organizations have been the focus of rather limited scholarly interest thus far. The panel welcomes papers exploring how these emerging actors participate in the policy arena and what impact they may have on policy decisions across governance levels. Theoretical and methodological approaches should be clearly presented in the abstract and elaborated on in the paper.


Ahrne, G., & Brunsson, N. (2008). Meta-organizations. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Beyers, J., Eising, R., & Maloney, W. (2008). Researching Interest Group Politics in Europe and Elsewhere: Much We Study, Little We Know? West European Politics, 31(6), 1103-1128. doi: 10.1080/01402380802370443

Checkel, J. T. (2003). “Going native” in Europe? Theorizing social interaction in European institutions. Comparative Political Studies, 36(1-2), 209-231.

Elken, M., & Vukasovic, M. (2014). Dynamics of voluntary policy coordination: the case of Bologna Process. In M.-H. Chou & Å. Gornitzka (Eds.), The Europe of Knowledge: Comparing Dynamics of Integration in Higher Education and Research Policies (pp. 131-159). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Freidson, E. (2001). Professionalism : the third logic: Cambridge : Polity.

Fumasoli, T. (2015a). European academic associations: mapping their characteristics, capacity and institutional embedding – preliminary work. Paper presented at the CHEGG seminar, Ghent University.

Fumasoli, T. (2015b). Multi-level governance in higher education. In J. Huisman, H. de Boer, D. D. Dill & M. Souto-Otero (Eds.), The Palgrave International Handbook of Higher Education Policy and Governance (pp. 76-94). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Larson, M. S. (2013). The rise of professionalism : monopolies of competence and sheltered markets. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

Moravcsik, A. (2002). Reassessing Legitimacy in the European Union. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 40(4), 603-624. doi: 10.1111/1468-5965.00390

Neave, G., & Maassen, P. (2007). The Bologna Process: An Intergovernmental Policy Perspective. In P. Maassen & J. P. Olsen (Eds.), University Dynamics and European Integration (Vol. 19, pp. 135-153). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

Piattoni, S. (2010). The theory of multi-level governance: conceptual, empirical, and normative challenges. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Voegtle, E. M., Knill, C., & Dobbins, M. (2011). To what extent does transnational communication drive cross-national policy convergence? The impact of the Bologna process on domestic higher education policies. Higher Education, 61(1), 77-94. doi: 10.1007/s10734-010-9326-6


This panel is proposed for the 2016 ECPR Section (7-10 September 2016, Prague). If you are interested in participating in this panel please get in touch with the co-chairs. 


CFP: Transnational actors in the multi-level governance of knowledge policies (ECPR 2015)

Panel title: Transnational actors in the multi-level governance of knowledge policies

  • Chair: Tatiana Fumasoli (
  • Co-discussants: Tatiana Fumasoli ( and Åse Gornitzka


Abstract: How does academia engage at the national, European and global levels to respond to the on-going pressures for excellence and relevance? This panel examines two sets of actors at the core of knowledge production and dissemination: academics and universities. Academics are professionals with multiple affiliations and loyalties, as they are embedded in higher education institutions and discipline-based communities; they strive to protect their academic freedom and control of their teaching and research activities (Freidson 2003). Universities have become increasingly relevant actors in the higher education and research fields, since reforms granting institutional autonomy have allowed them to position themselves strategically and affect the systemic level (Fumasoli and Huisman 2013).

We conceive of the ERA and the EHEA as a multi-layered system that provides opportunities for academics and universities to engage in different arenas across levels, in order to defend and lobby for their interests. The panel’s overall objective is to shed light on how such actors influence formulation and implementation of policies in higher education and research, how they contribute in the construction of the ERA and EHEA, more in general of the Europe of Knowledge.

We thus ask three distinct sets of questions:

  1. How do academics and universities take part in policy processes at European, national, regional and institutional level? What are the factors empowering and constraining them?
  2. What are the implications for ERA and EHEA of such engagement(s) at multiple levels? How is their governance impacted? How are specific policies and instruments affected?
  3. What are the consequences for national higher education and research? To what extent academics’ and universities’ strategic agency influences systemic integration at national and European levels?

To make sense of these dynamics we invite both conceptual and empirical papers that use, among others, multi-level governance (Marks 1996, Hooghe and Marks 2001, Piattoni 2010), networking governance (Gornitzka 2009), field theory  (Fligstein and McAdam 2012), and advocacy coalition (Sabatier 1998). Some relevant topics to elaborate upon are transnational interest groups, professional and disciplinary associations, strategic alliances (Fligstein 2008).


To propose a paper for this panel please contact Tatiana Fumasoli (

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.