Building the Knowledge Economy in Europe

Building the Knowledge Economy in Europe

New Constellations in European Research and Higher Education Governance

New Horizons in European Politics series

Edited by Meng-Hsuan Chou and Åse Gornitzka

Building the Knowledge Economy in Europe investigates the integration of emerging knowledge policy domains on the European political agenda, and the dynamics of this in relation to knowledge policies. Professors Meng-Hsuan Chou and Åse Gornitzka bring together leading experts who address the two central pillars of the ‘Europe of Knowledge’, research and higher education, to reveal the vertical, horizontal and sequential tensions in European knowledge governance

Chapter 6: Dynamics of voluntary coordination: actors and networks in the Bologna Process

Mari Elken and Martina Vukasovic

Subjects: education, education policy, management and universities, innovation and technology, knowledge management, politics and public policy, education policy, european politics and policy, social policy and sociology, education policy


The Bologna Process is a Europe-wide initiative of voluntary policy coordination with its main aim to construct what is called the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Along with the European Research Area (ERA) initiative led by the European Commission, it forms the two main pillars of the Europe of Knowledge (Maassen and Musselin 2009). The Bologna Process has received much scholarly attention thus far, primarily focused on the national impact and implementation processes, in addition to aspects such as the institutionalization of the process and the role of prominent policy entrepreneurs (Corbett 2005, 2011; Haskel 2008; Hoareau 2012; Ravinet 2008b; Veiga and Amaral 2006). It has been characterized by its limited administrative capacity, general lack of legally binding instruments and a formally intergovernmental nature although the European Commission has a prominent role in the process (Corbett 2011). Nevertheless, it has been claimed to be a catalyst for wide reform processes across Europe, and despite its limitations it has led to the emergence of an additional governance layer. Being a case of voluntary policy coordination, the process exhibits similarities with the European Union's (EU) Open Method of Coordination (OMC) approach, with focus on heterarchy, decentredness and dynamic aspects of the process (Hodson and Maher 2001) and has an emphasis on activities forming around targets, benchmarking, and 'naming and shaming'.

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