Active instruments: on the use of university rankings in developing national systems of higher education

Publikation: Forskning - peer reviewTidsskriftartikel

DOI

Global university rankings set into motion policy responses that highlight and question our understanding of how policies coordinate policy communities. Rankings are often treated merely as accelerators of reform processes and are not explored sufficiently as diverse organizations consisting of different actors and practices. Their role ought not to be so easily generalized; we suggest instead to study encounters between rankers and national policy contexts as occasions of potential tension. Rankings do not just accelerate existing national policy directions - they can change the policy processes themselves. We draw on two multi-year field studies of India and Denmark to investigate how national reforms and developments within the ranking industry interact in often surprising ways. Rankings do not always do what policy makers expect. We (1) highlight the activity of rankers in these two countries, (2) show the dynamic nature of policy processes, and (3) consider the search for policy reference points among the different actors. We present rankers in motion, policies in motion, and finally the complex nature of the ranking device that needs to be both a relevant and malleable policy instrument but also a fixed and legitimate standard. We extend existing arguments about the role of rankings in policy making by showing concretely how rankings are employed in and shape countries’ quests for positioning in the global knowledge economy. Rankings demand new explorations of their production and open up a space for new understandings of the links between policy assemblages and wider processes of transformation.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftPolicy Reviews in Higher Education
Vol/bind1
Tidsskriftsnummer1
Sider (fra-til)91-108
Antal sider17
ISSN2332-2969
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2017

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