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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

Policy capacity of interest groups

Alternative title: Politisk kapasitet av interesseorganisasjoner

Awarded: NOK 11.8 mill.

Interest groups in the public sector are organizations which represent various stakeholders - workers, professions, providers and users of public sector services. They are expected to contribute to governing the public sector by contributing information, expertise and legitimacy. However, we know surprisingly little about the overall capacity of these organizations to fulfill these expectations, whether some interest groups have more capacity than others, how they go about building such capacity internally and what trade-offs they might be facing. This project focuses on a part of the public sector in which there is a strong presence of interest groups: education. The main goal is to identify how much and what kind of policy capacity interest groups in education possess, how can this be explained and what are the implications for the overall capacity to govern education in Norway. The in-depth case studies are conducted on seven key organizations in education in Norway: three trade unions of teachers and researchers (Utdanningsforbundet, Norsk Lektorlag, and Forskerforbundet), two associations of education organizations (Private Barnehagers Landsforbund, and Universitetet- og høgskolerådet) and two organizations of students (Elevorganisasjonen and Norsk studentorganisasjon). The Norwegian organizations are compared with their counterparts in Finland and Germany.

This study analyses policy capacity of interest groups. Interest groups provide important policy goods to the policy-makers, such as information, expertise and legitimacy and, in doing so, complement the policy capacity of the state. Assessing policy capacity of interest groups is crucial for assessing the overall systemic policy capacity, which is a necessary condition for policy success. This project analyses policy capacity of interest groups focusing on education in Norway, through in-depth case studies of key organizations in this domain representing the interests of the professions (Utdanningsforbundet, Norsk Lektorlag, Forskerforbundet, Skolelederforbundet, Fagforbundet), providers (Private Barnehagers Landsforbund, Universitetet- og høgskolerådet, Norsk Fag- of Friskolers Landsforbund og Virke (Ideel)) and users of education services (Norsk studentorganisasjon, Foreldreutvalgene og Abelia (NHO)). The Norwegian organizations are compared with their counterparts in a similar system - Finland, and in a contrasting system - Germany. Specifically, the project maps the distribution of political, analytical, operational, communicative and relational dimensions of policy capacity between interest groups, as well as within interest groups, taking into account their internal organizational complexities. The project explores how identified distributions of policy capacity can be explained and what are the consequences for the overall systemic policy capacity. The project combines theoretical insights from interest groups literature, organizational studies, and studies of education governance, and relies on both qualitative and quantitative data. The project will provide the first systematic and comprehensive analysis of policy capacity of interest groups organizations in education in Norway. Apart from contributing to research literature, the project also has practical relevance with regards to sharing of knowledge and experience concerning boosting policy capacity both within and across the involved interest groups.

Funding scheme:

FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren