Higher Education

, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 77–94 | Cite as

To what extent does transnational communication drive cross-national policy convergence? The impact of the bologna-process on domestic higher education policies

  • Eva M. VoegtleEmail author
  • Christoph Knill
  • Michael Dobbins


This study investigates if transnational communication in the context of the Bologna Process (BP) has led to the convergence of higher education (HE) policies. The country sample includes both Bologna participants and non-participants, for which systematic knowledge about the implications of the BP is absent so far. We investigate study structures and quality assurance measures, which differ in their suitability for transnational benchmarking activities and are explicitly addressed by the BP. Our results show that convergent effects differ across policy dimensions and according to the subsamples. We generally find that convergence is greater for the participant countries than for the control group. However, convergence towards the HE policies of Bologna participants is detectable in the control group, albeit to a lesser degree. Thus, some HE policies have diffused beyond the members of the BP. This lends evidence that transnational communication can induce policy change even for countries not participating in the respective harmonization process.


Bologna process Higher education policies Transnational communication Convergence OECD countries 


  1. Bartsch, T. C. (2009). Europäische Hochschulpolitik. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, C. (1991). Review article: What is policy convergence and what causes it? British Journal of Political Science, 21, 215–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bleiklie, I. (2001). Towards European convergence of HE policy? HE Management, 13(1), 9–29.Google Scholar
  4. Bologna Declaration. (1999). The Bologna declaration of 19 June 1999. (23.09.2008).
  5. Braun, D., & Benninghoff, M. (2003). Policy learning in Swiss research policy—the case of the national centres of competence in research. Research Policy, 32(10), 1849–1863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. DEST (Department of Education, Science and Training). (2006). DEST consultation on Australia’s response to the Bologna Process, 03.02.2010.
  7. Dobbins, M., & Knill, C. (2009). Higher education policies in central and eastern Europe: Convergence toward a common model? Governance, 22(3), 397–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dobbins, M., & Martens, K. (2010). A contrasting case—the USA and its weak response to internationalization processes in education policy. In K. Martens, A. Nagel, M. Windzio, & A. Weymann (Eds.), Hg. Transformation of education policy—the impact of the bologna process and the PISA study in comparative perspective.Google Scholar
  9. Dolowitz, D., & Marsh, D. (2000). Learning from abroad: The role of policy transfer in contemporary policy making. Governance, 13, 5–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Drezner, D. W. (2001). Globalization and policy convergence. The International Studies Review, 3, 53–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Haas, E. B. (1990). When knowledge is power: Three models of change in international organizations. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  12. Heichel, S., Pape, J., & Sommerer, T. (2005). Is there convergence in convergence research? An overview of empirical studies on policy convergence. Journal of European Public policy, 12(5), 817–840.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Heinze, T., & Knill, C. (2008). Analysing the differential impact of the BP: Theoretical considerations on national conditions for international policy convergence. HE, 56(4), 493–510.Google Scholar
  14. Holzinger, K., & Knill, C. (2005). Causes and conditions of cross-national policy convergence. Journal of European Public Policy, 12(5), 775–796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Holzinger, K., & Knill, C. (2007). Ursachen und Bedingungen internationaler Politikkonvergenz. In K. Holzinger, H. Jörgens, & C. Knill (Eds.), Transfer, diffusion und Konvergenz von Politiken (pp. 85–106). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Holzinger, K., Knill, C., & Sommerer, T. (2008). Environmental policy convergence: The impact of international harmonization, transnational communication and regulatory competition. International Organization, 62, 553–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Humphreys, P. (2002). Europeanisation, globalisation and policy transfer in the European Union: The case of telecommunications. Convergence, 8(2), 52.Google Scholar
  18. Knill, C. (2005). Introduction, special issue. Journal of European Public Policy, 12(5), 764–774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Levi-Faur, D. (2002). Herding towards a new convention. On herds, shepherds and lost sheep in the liberalization of the telecommunications and electricity industries. Paper presented at the workshop ‘Theories of Regulation’. University of Oxford: Nuffield College.Google Scholar
  20. Lisbon Recognition Convention. (1997). Convention on the recognition of qualifications concerning HE in the European Region. (23.09.2008).
  21. Ministry of Education, New Zealand. (2009). New Zealand and the bologna process, 03.02.2010.
  22. Musselin, C. (2009). The side effects of the bologna process on national institutional settings: The case of France. In A. Amaral, G. Neave, C. Musselin, & P. Maassen (Eds.), European integration and the Governance of higher education and research. Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  23. Nagel, A. K. (2007). Neue Akteure in der Hochschulpolitik. Die hochschule, 2, 54–72.Google Scholar
  24. Rakic, V. (2001). To converge or not converge: The European Union and HE policies in the Netherlands, Belgium/Flanders and Germany. HE Policy, 14, 225–240.Google Scholar
  25. Rose, R. (1988). Comparative policy analysis: The program approach. In M. Dogan (Ed.), Comparing pluralist democracies (pp. 219–241). Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  26. Rose, R. (1993). Lesson-drawing in public policy. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publ.Google Scholar
  27. Sommerer, T., Holzinger, K., & Knill, C. (2008). The pair approach: What causes convergence of environmental policies? In K. Holzinger, C. Knill, & B. Arts (Eds.), Environmental policy convergence in Europe. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge.Google Scholar
  28. Sorbonne Declaration. (1998). Joint declaration on harmonisation of the architecture of the European HE system. 23.09.2008.
  29. Stocktaking Report. (2005). BP Stocktaking. (23.09.2008).
  30. Stone, D. (2004). Transfer agents and global networks in the ‘transnationalization’of policy. Journal of European Public Policy, 11(3), 545–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tews, K. (2002). Politiktransfer: Phänomen zwischen policy-lernen und Oktroi. Überlegungen zu unfreiwilligen Umweltpolitikimporten am Beispiel der EU-Osterweiterung. Zeitschrift Für Umweltpolitik und Umweltrecht, 25(2), 173–202.Google Scholar
  32. Voegtle, E. M. (2010). Beyond bologna-the bologna process as a global template for higher education reform efforts (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  33. Walter, T. (2007). Der Bologna Prozess im Kontext der europäischen Hochschulpolitik—Eine Genese der Synchronisierung internationaler Kooperation und Koordination. In M. Winter (Ed.), Reform des Studiensystems (pp. 10–36). Analysen zum Bologna-Prozess.Google Scholar
  34. Witte, J. K. (2006). Change of degrees and degrees of change—comparing adaptations of European HE systems in the context of the BP. Enschede: CHEPS, Center for HE Policy Studies.Google Scholar
  35. Zgaga, P. (2006). “External dimension” of the Bologna process. Luxemburg: European Commission Publications Office.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva M. Voegtle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christoph Knill
    • 1
  • Michael Dobbins
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KonstanzConstanceGermany

Personalised recommendations