Policy Making “by the way” in a Crowded Education Policy Space

Angelica Börjesson, Lars Karlsson, Lena Lindgren


Education has always been a reform-intensive policy sector, perhaps more so now than ever before. In studying education reforms, analysis has typically emphasized elements and/or the entire policy process of individual reforms. The same is essentially true for the management of education reforms, which tends to treat an individual reform as a cycle in which every element is subject to organizational management practices.


In contrast to approaching education policies as stand-alone phenomena, we argue that policies exist in context: they are occupants of a “policy space”. In this paper, we draw on a contemporary Swedish teacher certification (STC) reform to explore what happens when a reform is implemented in a policy space that can potentially be portrayed as crowded, or even overcrowded. The main results indicate that while diverse local implementation strategies have been employed, STC has ended up in an overcrowded educational policy space. In this space, new and former reforms jostle against each other, giving rise to various unforeseen problems that are difficult or even impossible to solve locally. Based on these observations, we identify several different interactions and unintended consequences or "policies by the way", thereby adding components useful in refining policy space theory.


Keywords: education policy, education reform, policy space, overcrowding.

Full Text: PDF

Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413