Shaping Policy Agendas
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Shaping Policy Agendas

The Micro-Politics of Economic International Organizations

Edited by David Dolowitz, Magdaléna Hadjiisky and Romuald Normand

This fascinating book investigates the strategic importance of the production and dissemination of expertise in the activities of the international organizations (IOs) that have come to symbolize the dominance of the Western political and economic order.
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Chapter 6: The power of 'soft skills': the role of the OECD in the shaping of a new cognitive motive in the global agora of education

Sarah Maire


This chapter examines the role played by the OECD in the shaping of a new concept and derived education policies. The statement developed here is that the international organization acts not only as a knowledge broker but also as a cognitive shaper. Positioning as a mediator between science and policy, it produces new hybrid knowledge called expertise. Playing a dual role of translator and of crossover actor, it disseminates through the concept ‘soft skills’ its vision of human capital and the knowledge economy, then translates it into education policies. Acting as a boundary actor, it makes tight ties with scholars and experts but also with private actors such as entrepreneurs, advocacy networks, and international firms. Questioning the ‘natural’ convergence observed between various institutions, this chapter invites us to see a balanced vision of the OECD’s hegemony: caught up in a collective shift, the international organization proves capable of leaving its footprint in the global and European policy game.

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