This guest entry by Martina Vukasovic (CHEGG, Ghent University) summarises the panels and presentations from the ECPR General Conference.
The 2016 edition of the General Conference of ECPR (European Consortium for Political Research) took place in Prague, 7-10 September 2016. Approx. 2000 participants presented their most recent work in political science, policy analysis, public administration and related areas of inquiry in almost 70 different sections. The newly formed ECPR Standing Group on Politics of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, for the sixth time in a row organized a section dedicated to knowledge politics and policies.
The section consisted of eight thematic panels comprising 3-5 papers each, spread over the three conference days.
First, ‘Applying Complex Systems Theory to Higher Education and Research Policy’ panel looked beyond the commonplace description of political and policy phenomena as complex and discussed the possibilities of using complexity theory for public policy analysis. It featured presentations by Graham Room about agile actors on complex educational terrains (author of the 2011 book on Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy) , Sandra Hasanefendic about using complex adaptive system theory for analysing behaviour of higher education institutions, Mads P. Sørensen on complex policy conditions conducive to scientific breakthroughs and research excellence and Mitchell Young on the linkages between policy dynamics and biological systems.
The second panel – ‘Market-Making of, in, and around European Higher Education’ – focused on marketization of higher education, both as a process and as an outcome. Janja Komljenovic presented her work on actors involved in the process of construction of ‘diverse, variegated, processual and relational’ markets. Christopher Pokarier focused on expansion and downscaling of higher education market in postwar Japan, while Lukas Graf focused on decentralized cooperation in skill formation. Eva Hartmann then shed light on international coordination service firms (European Quality Improvement Systems (EQUIS) and their role in privatization of higher education. Finally, Susan Robertson focused on contradiction between the global trade agreements in the making (e.g. TTIP, TPP) and a creative and dynamic knowledge-based economy.