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Researching the Europe of Knowledge: Insights for policymakers from the UACES CRN

3-4 March 2016

Directorate General Research & Innovation, European Commission, Square Frère Orban, 8, Brussels, Belgium

Please contact Vicente Andreo Pallares (Vicente.ANDREO-PALLARES [at] if you would like to attend. Seating is limited.

We would like to thank UACES and the Directorate General Research and Innovation, European Commission for generously supporting this event



Day 1: 3 March 2016

Welcome – Dr Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU Singapore) – 16.00-16.15

‘Actors and Institutions in the Europe of Knowledge’ – Dr Mari Elken (NIFU), Mr Jens Jungblut (University of Oslo), Dr Martina Vukasovic (Ghent University) – 16.15-17.00

‘When are universities bound by EU public procurement rules as buyers and providers? – English universities as a case study’ – Dr Andrea Gideon (NUS), Dr Albert Sanchez-Graells (University of Bristol Law School) – 17.00-17.45


Day 2: 4 March 2016

‘The Rise of Higher Education Regionalism’ – Dr Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU Singapore) and Dr Pauline Ravinet (University of Lille 2) – 10.00-10.45

‘Knowledge Brokerage and FP participation: a geographical perspective’ – Dr Nicola Francesco Dotti (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) – 10.45-11.30

‘Differentiated Integration and the Bologna Process’ – Dr Amelia Veiga (Centre for Research on Higher Education Policies) – 11.30-12.15

Lunch – 12.15-13.30

‘Scientific Diaspora: Roles and Options for Knowledge Policies’ – Dr Inga Ulnicane (University of Vienna), Dr Anete Vitola (University of Latvia), and Dr Julia Melkers (Georgia Tech) – 13.30-14.15

‘Knowledge policies for whom?’ – Dr Charikleia Tzanakou (University of Warwick) – 14.15-15.00

Closing remarks – Dr Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU Singapore) – 14.15-15.00

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: Complexity and the politics of knowledge policies: multi-issue, multi-level and multi-actor (2016 RCPP)

Complexity and the politics of knowledge policies: multi-issue, multi-level and multi-actor (Panel T03P05)

Conference2016 HKU-USC-IPPA Conference on Public Policy

When: 10-11 June 2016

Where: Hong Kong

Deadline for paper proposal30 January 2016

How & where to submit: select T03P05 and upload your proposal at

If you have any questions, please contact:

Meng-Hsuan Chou (

Jens Jungblut (

Pauline Ravinet (

Martina Vukasovic (


Complexity and the politics of knowledge policies: multi-issue, multi-level and multi-actor 

The complexity of policy processes and the relationship between instrument choice and impact have always intrigued scholars of politics, public policy, and public administration. Indeed, complexity constitutes a key element in established public policy theoretical frameworks such as punctuated equilibrium, multiple streams, and is at the core of Lindblom’s science of ‘muddling through’. In recent years, policy scholars such as Cairney and Geyer have pushed for embracing complexity as a foundation and starting point for policy analysis. These scholars advocate a ‘complexity theory’ approach that enables researchers to attend to both top-down as well as bottom-up dynamics, interests and behaviour of various actors, and how policy ideas, goals and instruments are interpreted and transformed during the policy process.

This panel engages with the complexity approach in public policy through the case of knowledge policy, which refers to basic and applied research, innovation, and higher education. The issues at the core of these policy areas are cross-cutting, which means that their governance does not neatly fall into one single policy domain (multi-issue). Indeed, they often require collaboration across multiple policy sectors as the different aspects of knowledge policies are under jurisdiction of different ministries (multi-actor). Due to increasing processes of international and subnational coordination, developments in the knowledge policy domain are a multi-level endeavour. The case of knowledge policy thus offers a promising empirical avenue to explore the key concepts at the heart of ‘complexity theory’, as well as a bridge for interdisciplinary theoretical exchanges.

We seek submissions that address cross-cutting issues in the knowledge policy domains and the multi-actor and multi-level policy processes involved. Submissions are invited from all theoretical schools using quantitative, qualitative or mixed-methods approaches, but should demonstrate a good conceptual understanding of the complexity of knowledge policies with a clear empirical, preferably comparative, focus.

CFP: Policy failures in the knowledge domain (2016 ECPR)

Panel: Policy failures in the knowledge domain

Higher education, research, and innovation policy domains have undergone dramatic changes in recent decades. Embedded in these changes are assumptions about failure and learning, and the belief that the ‘new and novel’ would ‘right’ the ‘wrongs’. Yet our understanding of the failure-learning mechanism remains under-developed. Indeed, social scientists often conflate three distinct types of failure—politics, policy, and instruments—in their analyses.

The consequences of failure also remain an on-going question. Do all failures lead to sizeable policy change or to less dramatic reforms or tinkering? Or to no actions at all? While spectacular policy failures are historically memorable, the subtle failures that trigger incremental changes, or indeed the acknowledgement of their very existence, are less examined. For instance, what are the modes of institutional change? To what extent do these changes lead to reform?

The above observations raise several questions about failures and learning in knowledge policymaking which scholars of public policy, comparative politics, international relations, and social sciences in general have only begun to address. These include, but are not limited to: why do some policy failures lead to institutional collapse or abandonment of policy ideas, while others do not? Indeed, why are some policy ideas more sticky than others? To what extent do policy failures shape the institutional design of international, regional, and national, and sub-national decision-making? Is there a cycle of failure and learning involved in the everyday functioning of political and knowledge institutions (e.g. universities and research institutes)? And, if so, how do we first detect and then determine which ‘failure-learning’ mechanism is weak and which one is robust?

This panel invites papers that seek to identify and unpack the failure-learning mechanism operational in specific knowledge policy changes. It welcomes a diversity of approaches – qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods – from all scholars and practitioners interested in the above questions.

This panel is proposed for the 2016 ECPR Section (7-10 September 2016, Prague). Please contact the panel chair before 24 January 2016 with your abstract (300 words) if you are interested in submitting a paper for this panel. 

CFP: Politics of Access in Higher Education Systems (2016 ECPR)

Panel: Politics of Access in Higher Education Systems

  • Co-chairs: Beverley Barrett, University of Houston ( and Karel Sima, Centre for Higher Education Studies, Czech Republic (

Expectations for greater access to higher education systems have followed trends reflecting an increasing number of democratic countries in recent decades. Given the acceleration of globalization, with pressure for greater access to higher education, the politics of access for domestic and international students remains contentious for entry into competitive academic programs worldwide.  Considering the power of ideas, interests, and institutions, how do specific national goals and policy strategies to increase educational access compare across countries and across regions?  In which countries and regions are trends for increasing educational access most innovative and most effective?

We invite contributions that compare and examine the extent to which these higher education access initiatives, across continents, support learning objectives and graduation outcomes that are innovative and effective supporting employability.  In recent years, we have observed a proliferation of national and regional strategies for increasing access to higher education around the world: in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe. The European drive to consolidate the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), since the early 2000s, has higher education attainment as an explicit objective.

This panel focuses on questions that address how national policy strategies on access confront current issues and developing trends. What are the higher education policies to accommodate domestic and international students towards the goal of increasing access? What are innovative and effective policy instruments, and what have been their impacts across countries and continents? How do unique actors (governments, institutions, academics, students etc.) actively engage in decision-making processes in complex multi-actor environments reflecting distinct preferences and goals?

The wave of higher education expansion in Western world in the 20th century was fuelled by the population growth of post-war baby boomers. This resulted in mass higher education systems in most of the European and American countries. Consequently the student populations have substantially changed reflecting sociocultural diversity. Furthermore, internationalisation has become an objective for higher education in the 21st century in the EHEA and across continents. These trends have changed not only the form and content of higher education, but also education’s role in the knowledge-based economy and society.

The international mobility of students in higher education continues to accelerate. Countries seek to retain talented students, supporting objectives towards national competitiveness, while being open to global talent, overlapping with objectives for internationalisation. As countries become more developed, access issues continue to become more pressing within a knowledge-driven economy. Developing economies that can accommodate increased access to education, at every level, are investing invaluable knowledge creation that leads to productivity.

This panel addresses trends for increasing educational access, identifying innovative and effective national policy strategies that address challenges of the internationalised mass higher education of the 21st century. We invite contributions that would analyse these trends on various levels of governance, and from perspectives of multiple actors, as well as those that employ a comparative approach on international, institutional, and disciplinary levels.  

This panel is proposed for the 2016 ECPR Section (7-10 September 2016, Prague). Please contact the panel co-chairs before 24 January 2016 if you are interested in submitting a paper for this panel. 

Knowledge Governance in an Industrial Cluster: the Collaboration between Academia-Industry-Government

Farah Purwaningrum

My book ‘Knowledge Governance in an Industrial Cluster. The Collaboration between Academia-Industry-Government in Indonesia’ examines the diverging strands of normative, social and territorial order of the science system. The insights from one of dynamic Asian countries – Indonesia provide interesting comparisons and contrasts with higher education and innovation policies in European countries. Several key findings of my research on Indonesian science system are as follows:

Lack of coordination

The institutional space afforded by the normative order shows a fuzzy and inconsistent norms and lack of coordination between ministries in Indonesia involved in the science and industrial sector. The Ministry of Research and Technology’s (RISTEK) science policy is geared towards national innovation system. The national research agenda composed by the National Research Council (DRN) and RISTEK is centralistic. It is decided in the capital city Jakarta. DRN itself act as a unit of RISTEK. The production of knowledge is aimed at seven areas: food security, energy, technology, transportation management, information and communication technology, defense and security, medicine and health technology, and advanced materials.

Romanticizing on the past of high-technology during the former President Habibie is also evident in the vision of IPTEK (ilmu pengetahuan dan teknologi/science and technology) for the welfare and progress of civilization. IPTEK and the knowledge produced from it is viewed as a panacea. The national innovation system strategy was later on carried out as a project by RISTEK due to the apathetic response from the local government. Indeed the matter of research and development depends substantially on the regional government commitment, which can be restricted due to limited local budget capacity and clientele related matters.

Liberalization agenda

Directorate of Higher Education (DIKTI) in Ministry of National Education (MENDIKNAS) are taking measures to liberalise the higher education system. However, it is temporarily halted due to the Constitutional Court Decision that regards education as a public good and secures the right to education for Indonesian citizens. The Court is a lonely guardian of the citizen rights in contrast to the liberalization agenda pursued not only by MENDIKNAS but also Ministry of Industry. The recent legal reform proposes the introduction of non-profit legal entity (Badan Layanan Umum) for the state universities in the end of 2012. Profit or non-profit character of the organization is to be dictated by empirical reality instead of normative purview.

Industrial policy is also emphasising the liberalization agenda by reliance of its fiscal policy through tax incentives rather than through standardization mechanism. The current Master-plan for the Acceleration and Expansion for Indonesian Economic Development 2011-2025 is ambitious in its plan of connecting diverging hubs in different islands in Indonesia. The capital demands of this Master-plan is considerable large namely up to 400 billion US dollars, this is six times of Indonesia’s GDP in 2010. Java Economic Corridor focuses more on services, the remaining corridors are still largely based on natural resources.

From the analysis of the clusters related policies it becomes evident that 35 clusters specified do not point out to a bounded area of cluster either in a specific area such as the one in Ceper, or in Jababeka where there is natural industrial agglomeration. The extent of the feasibility of this policy in practice is contentious first due to the patchy bottom up planning and second due to sectoral planning due to lack of coordination between ministries. The Investment related laws exhibit friendliness towards tax holidays, tax incentives and labour policy. Less is shown in terms of reliance of smart regulation as incorporated in the technical engineering standards or national standardisation norms. The automotive industry policy also shows fiscal intervention in terms of import duty and luxury tax. There is a vacuous absence of industrial policy for knowledge transfer in the automotive sector, which exemplifies the reliance of the knowledge transfer process from the principal customers.

Research system: patronage, entrepreneurship and scattered resources

Universities are the main scientific knowledge producing organizations in terms of research as well as national publication activities. The pattern I observe from the statistical inference of the allocation of Insentif (research incentive programme) RISTEK grant from 2008-2010 and from the publication of scientific national journal indicates is geographical disparity of knowledge distribution. Practices of research-based organizations indicate that the science system still represent the tension of patronage, personal linkage harnessed with good relations. These practices enact the social space of interaction between actors. Centralization still persists. Researchers cope with the lack of funding by resorting to taking up additional jobs. Some are being entrepreneurial.

Moreover, the fluid character where ministries have their budget for research creates different doors to attain research funding. This underlines the fact that the existing capacity of research is restrained, resources are scattered due to ‘shared poverty.’ Further research is evaluated in terms of completing administrative requirements in the fiscal year, which may hamper the linkage between industry and research institutes. Nonetheless there is linkage between academia and industry as exemplified in the case of Biomaterial R&D and the Toyota case. The different modes of representation of academia and in industries may inhibit the knowledge flow. The case of Polymer Technology Center indicates how an academia is becoming more entrepreneurial.

Decentralization: connecting knowledge with locality

The territorial order then asks for the progress on decentralization and how the decentralized government as encapsulated in the pemekaran (splitting of administrative regions) process partake the role in development of bonded zone, and connecting knowledge with the locality. There is a plan of developing a bonded zone which will include Jababeka, Lippo & Delta Silicon, Hyundai, EJIP, Bekasi Fajar, MM2100 and Deltamas. It is likely that the bonded zone in the Bekasi district which will have the same fate like Batam, it will be relying to the central government funding, facilitated by the West Java Province with Estate Companies.

The District Government of Bekasi is facing challenges due to bureaucratization. The bureaucratization process is interwoven in the practices of the officials in which there is a high regard for more lucrative administrative positions than for functional positions. The rapid rotation of manpower also implies the loss of knowledge in the government. Constraints in the usage of budget is visible, this is aggravated with patron-client relations between the parliament and the local government and corrupt practices in the usage of budget. Pemekaran contributes to the bureaucratization process and the rise of bureaucratic elites. Thus pemekaran allows the geographical space in a decentralized government unit for a competition for resources.

This sketches the picture of the science system in Indonesia, where the authority relations and practices of the policy that keep the order of science system arises from differing orders. They signify on the one hand, the continuities of past practices of patronage, ‘shared poverty’ and centralization, and on the other hand formally there is increasing regulatory trend to expand and liberalize even more spaces. This collaboration, competition, centralization and liberalization construe the spaces of the science system in Indonesia.

Dr. Farah Purwaningrum is a sociologist with an interdisciplinary background in law. She holds law degrees from Universitas Islam Indonesia, Yogyakarta and the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK. She completed her Dr. phil. in Rheinische Friedrich Universität Bonn, Germany in 2012. She currently holds a lectureship in sociology at the Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. She has a keen interest to do research in areas of science policy, science system and knowledge governance. She will present her recent research at the ERA CRN section on the global governance of knowledge policies at the ECPR General Conference in Montreal, Canada, August 2015.

This entry was initially posted on Europe of Knowledge blog.

Academic work and careers in Europe

ChangTatiana_bookcovering working conditions at European universities are studied in a recent book ‘Academic Work and Careers in Europe – Trends, Challenges, Perspectives’, edited by Tatiana Fumasoli, Gaële Goastellec and Barbara Kehm. Tatiana Fumasoli tells about the main findings presented in the book.

Q1: What have been the rationales and origins of this book?

The book explores the impact of changes in governance, work and careers in European higher education. It observes empirically how and to what extent a European higher education profession is emerging through convergence, standardization and formalization of academic careers.  The book is an output of the project EuroAC – The Academic Profession in Europe: Responses to Societal Challenges, funded by the European Science Foundations and national research councils coordinated by University of Kassel (Germany). It originates from the qualitative data gathered in 8 European countries (Austria, Germany, Finland, Croatia, Ireland, Poland, Romania and Switzerland) by the 8 national partners. Around 500 interviews were conducted with university leaders, administrators and academics.

Q2: What are the main common trends in academic work and careers in Europe?

Standardization and formalization of recruitment, promotion and evaluation, as well as of PhD supervision is everywhere apparent and an international dimension is nowadays – at least ideally – integrated in European universities, for instance in hiring, conducting research, teaching.

Competition for academic positions, research grants, publications is increasing at all levels and takes place within and across universities and countries. Such competitive pressures shape increasing differences between global players (countries, universities, academics) and regional players. Thus elite universities, research groups and academics are connecting more among themselves and less within their institutional and national settings.

Q3: What are the main differences between the eight European countries you analyze in the book?

In general the increasing institutional autonomy of universities across Europe has shaped complex dynamics that are not completely under the control of states. The stagnating or shrinking public funding has created unequal distribution of resources among universities, which hold different adaptive capacities.

Concretely, national and local practices are still important in the organization of academic careers. In this sense, the landscape of a European academic profession is still rather fragmented. The recent financial crisis has affected European countries quite differently.

Q4: Are the main policies on academic careers made at national and institutional levels or does the European Union also play a role?

There is no doubt that the EU is influencing the restructuring of academic careers and work. First, the standards of research for participating in the Framework Programs (on-going Horizon 2020) have diffused across EU members and ERA associate members. Second, the Commission has been involved in the Bologna process quite early. Third, the EU has contributed to enhance an understanding (and a legitimating role) of higher education institutions in the construction of Europe of Knowledge. This has focused the public debate also on the role of academics and their contribution to societies. Finally, the idea of a free market of knowledge is met with a certain criticism by most academics, who have to balance personal and family life with long years of uncertainty before achieving a permanent position.

Q5: What are the main messages for policy-makers and practitioners?

Europe has excellent academics in all scientific fields, however their careers and trajectories are prone to chance and to sometimes idiosyncratic choices. There is a waste of resources in forming academics, having them compete for positions, publications, research funding, that is arguably not efficient. If the knowledge society is key to socio-economic development, the role and organization of academic careers should be addressed more structurally at European and national levels.

Professional organizations like universities rely on individuals (that is academics) for producing knowledge and not on technologies, structures, routines, which can be designed. From this point of view it is astonishing how few universities and higher education systems have addressed thoroughly academic careers in order to improve their performance. There is a tension between the traditional professional control on careers and the demands for more effective use of resources that should be addressed.

Q6: What would be interesting avenues for future research? 

Academics are professionals with multiple affiliations and loyalties, as they are embedded in higher education institutions and discipline-based communities; as such they strive to protect their academic freedom and control of their teaching and research activities.

The European dimension has become an arena where academic professional interests can be advocated and promoted. It is thus relevant to investigate how academics engage in European policy processes, how they link across Europe to other actors and arenas, and which factors empower and constrain them in protecting their professional interests. Given the increasing number of European academic associations, academies, scientific journals we should scrutinize how the integration of higher education and research at national and European level is affected.

Academics’ engagement in European policy processes will be the topic of the panel “Transnational actors in the multi-level governance of knowledge policies” in the section “The Global Governance of Knowledge Policies: Europe of Knowledge in Context” at the ECPR General Conference in Montreal, August 2015.

Dr. Tatiana Fumasoli is a Post-doctoral fellow at the ARENA Centre for European Studies, and an assistant professor at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Oslo. Previously she was a researcher at the Institute of Management of University of Lugano (Switzerland), where she received her PhD with a thesis on strategy of higher education institutions. Tatiana presently works in the Flagship Project, funded by the Research Council of Norway, and investigating institutional change dynamics in European universities. Her interest lies on strategic agency of political and social actors and on its implications for policy and governance of higher education and research. Her work has appeared, among others, in Higher Education, Minerva, Higher Education Policy, International Journal of Public Administration, and with Springer and Palgrave.


This entry was initially posted on Europe of Knowledge blog.


New Horizons in the Europe of Knowledge

Inga Ulnicane and Meng-Hsuan ChouJCERcover

What are the boundaries of the Europe of Knowledge? Does a specific conceptualisation of scientific excellence lead to a more divided Europe of Knowledge? How are diverse aims of research policy such as economic competitiveness, societal relevance and research excellence reconciled? Do universities increasingly behave like private companies? These are some of the key questions addressed in a recent special issue ‘New Horizons in the Europe of Knowledge’ published in Journal of Contemporary European Research.

The six research articles, two commentaries, three book reviews and an editorial in this special issue explore major topics in European research and higher education policies. Most contributions have been presented at conference panels organised by the Academic Association of Contemporary European Studies (UACES) collaborative research network on European Research Area (ERA CRN) in 2013. This special issue seeks to provide timely insights in knowledge policies, which have played an increasing role on national, supranational and global political agendas.


Changing research and higher education policies in Europe and beyond

In the editorial, Meng-Hsuan Chou and Inga Ulnicane explore the historical expansion of the Europe of Knowledge including both supranational (EU Framework Programmes) as well as intergovernmental (the Bologna Process and research infrastructures such as CERN) initiatives. They demonstrate that the shifting policy, political and geographical boundaries of European knowledge policies include interactions among diverse policy fields, governance levels and world regions.

The first three articles focus on changing concepts, ideas and values in European research policy. Mitchell Young examines how the concept of excellence has changed from the 7th Framework Programme to Horizon 2020. He argues that the framework programmes go beyond their explicit role as a funding distribution instrument to serve discursive and regulatory functions, as his study of specific conceptualisations of excellence demonstrate. Inga Ulnicane analyses the ideational development of the European Research Area initiative from its launch in 2000. She finds that over time the main aims of the ERA initiative have expanded from initial focus on economic competitiveness to also include ‘big ideas’ of research policy such as Grand Challenges and excellence. Andrea Gideon brings in the legal perspective to discuss blurring boundaries between the public and the private in research policies in Germany, the Netherlands and England. She suggests that commodification of research could subject universities to EU competition law.

The following three articles turn to European higher education policy. Mari Elken analyses vertical, horizontal and internal tensions in the European Qualifications Framework. She finds that while the impact of EQF has been uneven and its implementation proceeded with various speed, it nevertheless is a successful instrument that has been gaining widespread acceptance across Europe in an area where coordination previously had been met with resistance. Amélia Veiga, António Magalhães and Alberto Amaral apply the concept of differentiated integration to understanding the Bologna process as an instrument for building the European Higher Education Area. They underline the role of national and institutional factors in explaining inception and evolution of the EHEA. Laura Cruz-Castro and Luis Sanz-Menéndez analyse changes in human resource policy in Spanish universities. Their results reveal that some universities are more responsive to changes in resource environment than others, and that compliance is not the only strategic response.

The two commentaries provide insights from practitioners. Thomas König reflects on his earlier experience as a scientific advisor to the then President of the European Research Council, which is considered a success story of the EU research policy. He explains how the ERC reconciles the key tensions between scientific and administrative expectations. Julie Smith shares her experiences on what it means to be an academic in the Europe of Knowledge. Coming from a world-leading British university, she highlights the role of research networking, funding and assessment.

Finally, three recent books in the field of European research and education studies are reviewed. The first is a book by Lukas Graf on the hybridization of vocational training and higher education in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.  The second is a book edited by Tero Erkkilä on global university rankings and the challenges they present to European higher education. The third book reviewed is on European research and higher education governance edited by Meng-Hsuan Chou and Åse Gornitzka.


An emergent research agenda

The contributions to this special issue reveal a number of exciting future research avenues.  Heterogeneity of actors and policy initiatives in the Europe of Knowledge suggests further need to focus on experimentation and differentiated integration including its various models of multi-speed Europe, flexible integration, and variable geometry. Contributions on the role of ideas and values in knowledge policies suggest that it would be interesting to delve deeper into the cognitive dimension of these policies and their interaction with quantitative assessment and actors’ interests. Finally, the changing global landscape of knowledge policies with new initiatives from emerging countries, private actors and national agencies indicates an urgency to examine the opportunities and challenges of regional initiatives such as the Europe of Knowledge in a global context.

The ERA CRN will continue to address these topics in the forthcoming publications, its 2015 workshop and conference panels. We look forward engaging with scholars and practitioners interested in these topics.


Inga Ulnicane and Meng-Hsuan Chou are guest editors of the special issue ‘New Horizons in the Europe of Knowledge’. Dr. Inga Ulnicane is Assistant Professor at the Institute for European Integration Research, University of Vienna, Austria. Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou is Nanyang Assistant Professor in Public Policy and Global Affairs at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


This entry has been initially posted on Europe of Knowledge blog.


CFP: UACES CRN workshop on ‘The politics of knowledge: Europe and beyond’ (16-17 July 2015, Robinson College, Cambridge)

Workshop organisers:

Dr Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU Singapore) – hsuan.chou [at]

Dr Julie Smith (Robinson College, University of Cambridge) – jes42 [at]

Mitchell Young (Charles University in Prague) – young.mitchell [at]


Workshop Aim

Knowledge policies are at the forefront of contemporary global politics. There is an accepted belief among policymakers that knowledge is the foundation on which societies coalesce and economies thrive. Indeed, the competition for knowledge can be said to be driving the global race for talent. For the second workshop of the UACES collaborative research network on the European Research Area, we invite contributions covering and going beyond Europe to examine the politics of knowledge policies around the world. This workshop is geared towards answering the following questions: What key themes should we address when we talk about the politics of knowledge policies? How and why are these themes crucial for our understanding of politics and policymaking in sectors such as higher education, research, and innovation?

We invite theoretical, empirical and comparative contributions that investigate the role of the ‘four I-s’ – ideas, interests, instruments and institutions – in the politics of knowledge policies. By role, we refer to the effects that ideas, actors (individual, organisational), policy instruments and institutions have had on the national, regional and global governance of knowledge policies, and vice versa. This focus on ‘roles’ is to enable a multidisciplinary discussion on whether these factors share defining characteristics across the different knowledge policy domains (research, higher education, innovation), between distinct governance levels, and within and across geographical regions.

Potential papers could explore a variety of themes. For instance, they may address how and why particular ideas (‘excellence’, ‘talent’, ‘21st century skills’, ‘knowledge-based’) find policy resonance around the world, while others fail to do so. Are some of the newly emerging ideas a repackaging of earlier ones and, if so, what accounts for their rise on the policy agenda? Papers may examine the configuration and re-configuration of actors from the public and private sectors in designing, shaping, implementing, promoting or blocking knowledge policy from above, below and through other governance channels. Contributions may investigate and compare the sets of policy instruments adopted to facilitate knowledge policy cooperation throughout the world’s different geographical regions. Here, for example, it would be interesting to identify whether there are standard sets of measures that bilateral or multilateral cooperation embrace for promoting collaboration in the knowledge policy sector. Papers may also assess the institutional set-ups introduced to facilitate knowledge policy cooperation, the mandates given and decisional powers delegated to these institutions, and the effects, if any, that these institutions have had over time.

This CRN continues to welcome scholars at all career stages, theoretical and methodological approaches to examining knowledge policy cooperation in Europe and around the world.

Workshop call for paper

We will provide accommodation, refreshments and meals for accepted presenters for the duration of the workshop. Applicants may propose more than one paper for consideration, but no one will be permitted to present or co-present more than one paper. We encourage student members of UACES to consider applying for travel funding (

Please contact any of the workshop organisers if you have any questions and please submit your proposal before the 13th of April 2015, 18.00 GMT at: 

Important Dates

13 April 2015 (18.00 GMT): extended abstract due

24 April 2015: acceptance notification

18 June 2015: workshop programme available

02 July 2015: full papers due

16-17 July 2015: workshop

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 (