Despite the interest in governance transition in public education, it is challenging to find a theorised account of the process, and even more so in social democratic countries. To fill this gap, Israel can serve as a good case study for investigating how educational governance in social democratic countries changes under neoliberal influences. In the mid-2000s, the Israeli government presented the Dovrat reform, a greatly detailed plan for a new governance mode and multiple neoliberal policies in public education. Shortly after its introduction, political circumstances led to its formal demise, and as a result, many researchers called it a ‘failed’ neoliberal reform. As this analysis indicates, however, key features proposed by the reform ended up being implemented. This case study combines the ‘garbage can model’ and ‘institutional change’ theories to explain the dynamic of transition from a bureaucratic to a neoliberal governance mode in public education. The findings suggest that in Israel, and possibly in other social democratic countries, transition to neoliberal governance is a result of a dynamic that combines direct and indirect policy changes. The article discusses this dynamic and the circumstances that have helped produce it.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Mode of governance is a preferred array of policy goals and instruments, with a specific underlying logic (Howlett 2009a).
In a sense, the Dovrat reform was an attempt to promote a new educational governance, whereas the other comprehensive reform often discussed in Israel, the creation in 1968 of junior and high school levels that promoted socio-economic integration of students, although it was extensive in scope and had far-reaching consequences, was not a paradigm shift, as most prior processes and characteristics of the system were not targeted (see Dror 2006; Resnik 2012).
Neither does the present article address the relations between nongovernmental organizations and schools, as these were only very briefly noted in the recommendations of the report summary (Dovrat Report 2005, p. 28).
The analysis shows that several elements that are not neoliberal per se have also been promoted. Temporal proximity (March and Olsen 1984) to other neoliberal goals in a policy context that emphasises managerial goals is likely to end up subjecting them to the neoliberal agenda. For example, hours of individualised instruction tend to focus on highly tested subjects such as math and English, which are central to the evaluation frenzy that has gripped the system since the 2000s (Berkovich 2014).
Apple, M. W. (2006). Understanding and interrupting neoliberalism and neoconservatism in education. Pedagogies, 1(1), 21–26.
Aladjem, D., & Borman, K. M. (2006). Examining comprehensive school reform. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.
Bakir, C. (2009). Policy entrepreneurship and institutional change: Multilevel governance of central banking reform. Governance, 22(4), 571–598.
Bartley, T. (2007). Institutional emergence in an era of globalization: The rise of transnational private regulation of labor and environmental conditions. American Journal of Sociology, 113(2), 297–351.
Baxter, P., & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative case study methodology: Study design and implementation for novice researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13(4), 544–559.
Beach, D. (2017). Process-tracing methods in social science. In W. R. Thompson (Ed.), Oxford research encyclopedia of politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Béland, D., & Powell, M. (2016). Continuity and change in social policy. Social Policy and Administration, 50(2), 129–147.
Ben-David, D. (2000, June 11). Grade: D-. Haaretz. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.tau.ac.il/~danib/articles/EducBarak.htm. (in Hebrew).
Ben-Porat, G. (2005). Netanyahu’s second coming: A neoconservative policy paradigm? Israel Studies, 10(3), 225–245.
Ben-Zur, R. (2003, September 21). A national task force was established with the aim of promoting education. YNET. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-2763658,00.html. (in Hebrew).
Berkovich, I. (2014). Neo-liberal governance and the ‘new professionalism’ of Israeli principals. Comparative Education Review, 58(3), 428–456.
Berkovich, I. (2017). Educational reform hyperwaves: Reconceptualizing Cuban's theories of change. Journal of Educational Change, 18(4), 413–438.
Berkovich, I., & Markman, N. (2010). The state and teachers’ organizations. Jerusalem: The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. (in Hebrew).
Berliner, D. C., & Biddle, B. J. (1995). The manufactured crisis: Myth, fraud, and the attack on America’s public schools. White Plains: Longman Publishers.
Blass, N., & Kugan, Y. (2014). Ministry of education budget 2000–2014: Trends and problems. Jerusalem: Taub Center.
Blumenfeld, D. (2009, April 16). Who is Dr. Shimshon Shoshani, the new-old Director-General of the Ministry of Education. Blacklabor. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.blacklabor.org/?p=8022. (in Hebrew).
Campbell, J. L. (2002). Ideas, politics, and public policy. Annual Review of Sociology, 28(1), 21–38.
Cohen, M. D., March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. (1972). A garbage can model of organizational choice. Administrative Science Quarterly, 17(1), 1–25.
Cowen, R. (2000). Comparing futures or comparing pasts? Comparative Education, 36(3), 333–342.
Desimone, L. (2002). How can comprehensive school reform models be successfully implemented? Review of Educational Research, 72(3), 433–479.
Dror, Y. (2006). Past reforms in the Israeli education system: What can we learn from history on the Dovrat Report? In D. Inbar (Ed.), Toward educational revolution. Jerusalem: Hakibbutz Hameuchad—Sifriat Poalim Publishing Group. (in Hebrew).
E.L.A. (2003). A proposal for structural reform of Israel’s educational system. Tel Aviv: Committee for National Responsibility. (in Hebrew).
Eisenberg, D. (2006, March 5). Olmert approved the proposed education program Prof. Reichman. Nana10. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=364607. (in Hebrew).
Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. New York: Wiley.
Eyal, O., & Berkovich, I. (2011). National challenges, educational reforms, and their influence on school management: The Israeli case. Educational Planning, 19(4), 44–63.
Feniger, Y., Livneh, I., & Yogev, A. (2012). Globalisation and the politics of international tests: The case of Israel. Comparative Education, 48(3), 323–335.
Fenwick, T. J. (2003). The ‘good’ teacher in a neo-liberal risk society: A Foucaultian analysis of professional growth plans. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 35(3), 335–354.
Filc, D. (2009). The political right in Israel: Different faces of Jewish populism. New York: Routledge.
Forer, O. (2007, November 15). Dovrat Report succeeded, so why was it buried? The Marker. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.themarker.com/career/1.463301. (in Hebrew).
Gaziel, H. H. (2007). Almost predictable failure. Hed Hachinuch, 82(1), 100–102. (in Hebrew).
Gaziel, H. H. (2010). Why educational reforms fail: The emergence and failure of an educational reform: A case study from Israel. In J. Zajda (Ed.), Globalisation, comparative education and policy research (Vol. 12, pp. 49–62)., Globalisation, ideology and.education policy reforms Dordrecht: Springer.
Geertz, C. (2008). Thick description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture. In T. S. Oaks & P. L. Price (Eds.), The cultural geography reader (pp. 41–51). New York: Routledge.
Gibton, D. (2011). Post-2000 law-based educational governance in Israel: From equality to diversity? Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 39(4), 434–454.
Gilens, M., & Page, B. I. (2014). Testing theories of American politics: Elites, interest groups, and average citizens. Perspectives on Politics, 12(03), 564–581.
Glaser, B. G. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity: Advances in the methodology of grounded theory. Mill Valley, CA: The Sociology Press.
Gutwein, D. (2012). Privatization of labor relations as the political logic of dismantling the welfare state. In D. Mishori & A. Maor (Eds.), Precarious employment—Systematic exclusion and exploitation in the labor market. Tel Aviv: Social Economic Academy and Achva Press. (in Hebrew).
Hai, S. (2013, August 12). Meitzav exams have been canceled: They harmed schools. YNET. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4416826,00.html. (in Hebrew).
Hai, S. (2014, January 9). The reform: Student choice, principals’ autonomy. YNET. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4475030,00.html. (in Hebrew).
Hannaway, J., & Woodroffe, N. (2003). Policy instruments in education. Review of Research in Education, 27(1), 1–24.
Harpaz, Y. (2011). Situation room- Dr. Shimshon Shoshani sailed away. Hed Hachinuch, 86(2), 20–23. (in Hebrew).
Helgøy, I., & Homme, A. (2006). Policy tools and institutional change: Comparing education policies in Norway, Sweden and England. Journal of Public Policy, 26(2), 141–165.
Hinnfors, J. (2011). Social democracy. In B. Badie, D. Berg-Schlosser, & L. Morlino (Eds.), International encyclopedia of political science. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Hood, C. (2010). The blame game: Spin, bureaucracy, and self-preservation in government. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Horesh, H. (2004, March 30). What is the business of education? Haaretz. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.haaretz.co.il/misc/1.969917. (in Hebrew).
Howlett, M. (1998). Predictable and unpredictable policy windows: Institutional and exogenous correlates of Canadian federal agenda-setting. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 31(03), 495–524.
Howlett, M. (2009a). Governance modes, policy regimes and operational plans: A multi-level nested model of policy instrument choice and policy design. Policy Sciences, 42(1), 73–89.
Howlett, M. (2009b). Process sequencing policy dynamics: Beyond homeostasis and path dependency. Journal of Public Policy, 29(3), 241–262.
Howlett, M., & Cashore, B. (2009). The dependent variable problem in the study of policy change: Understanding policy change as a methodological problem. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 11(1), 33–46.
Howlett, M., McConnell, A., & Perl, A. (2016). Weaving the fabric of public policies: Comparing and integrating contemporary frameworks for the study of policy processes. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 18(3), 273–289.
Ichilov, O. (2009). The retreat from public education: Global and Israeli perspectives. New York: Springer.
Inbar, D. E. (1986). Educational policy-making and planning in a small centralized democracy. Comparative Education, 22(3), 271–278.
Inbar, D. (Ed.). (2006). Toward educational revolution. Jerusalem: Hakibbutz Hameuchad—Sifriat Poalim Publishing Group. (in Hebrew).
Jones, B. D., Sulkin, T., & Larsen, H. A. (2003). Policy punctuations in American political institutions. American Political Science Review, 97(1), 151–169.
Khromchenko, Y. (2005, May 2). 4,500 teachers have received letters of dismissal from today. Harretz. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://news.walla.co.il/item/709035. (in Hebrew).
Khromchenko, Y., & Traubman, T. (2006, January 15). Livnat will be remembered for the failure of the Dovrat reform. Haaretz. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://news.walla.co.il/item/842730. (in Hebrew).
Kingdon, J. W. (1984). Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. Boston: Little, Brown.
Lidor, R., Feigin, N., Fresco, B., Talmor, R., & Kupermintz, H. (2015). Guiding outlines for teacher training in higher education institutions program in colleges of education: Integration, matching of undergraduate curricula & faculty attitudes. Dapim, 59, 45–78. (in Hebrew).
Lingard, B. (2011). Policy as numbers: Ac/counting for educational research. The Australian Educational Researcher, 38(4), 355–382.
Lipsky, M. (1980). Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in public services. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Mahoney, J. (2000). Path dependence in historical sociology. Theory and Society, 29(4), 507–548.
Mahoney, J., & Thelen, K. (Eds.). (2010). Explaining institutional change: Ambiguity, agency, and power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. (1984). The new institutionalism: Organizational factors in political life. American Political Science Review, 78(3), 734–749.
Maron, A., & Shalev, M. (Eds.). (2017). Neoliberalism as a state project: Changing the political economy of Israel. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Maroy, C. (2008). The new regulation forms of educational systems in Europe: Towards a post-bureaucratic regime. In N. C. Soguel & P. Jaccard (Eds.), Governance and performance of education systems. Netherlands: Springer.
Maroy, C. (2009). Convergences and hybridization of educational policies around ‘post-bureaucratic’ models of regulation. Compare, 39(1), 71–84.
Maroy, C. (2012). Towards post-bureaucratic modes of governance: A European perspective. In L. Yates & M. Grumet (Eds.), World yearbook of education (pp. 82–99). New York: Routledge.
McDonell, L. M. (2009). A political science perspective on education policy analysis. In G. Sykes, D. N. Plank, & B. L. Schneider (Eds.), Handbook of education policy research (pp. 57–70). New York: Routledge.
Meyer, H. D., & Benavot, A. (Eds.). (2013). PISA, power, and policy: The emergence of global educational governance. Oxford: Symposium Books.
Moav, O., & Gabey, H. (2006). How to solve the problem of strikes. Tchelet, 22, 74–91. (in Hebrew).
Nesher, T., & O. Rosenberg. (2012, March 11). The marketing battles of schools. Haaretz. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/1.1660824. (in Hebrew).
Nir, A. E., & Inbar, D. (2003). School principals in the Israeli educational system: From headteachers to professional leaders. In L. E. Watson (Ed.), Selecting and developing heads of schools: Twenty-three European perspectives. Sheffield, UK: Hallam University Press.
NRG (2005, June 16). 2500 letters of dismissal were sent today to teachers. NRG. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART/946/042.html. (in Hebrew).
Phillips, D. (2004). Toward a theory of policy attraction in education. In G. Steiner-Khamsi (Ed.), The global politics of educational borrowing and lending (pp. 54–67). New York: Teachers College Press.
Pizmony-Levy, O. (2017). Big comparisons, little knowledge: Public engagement with PISA in the United States and Israel. In A. W. Wiseman & C. S. Taylor (Eds.), The impact of the OECD on education worldwide (pp. 125–156). Bingley: Emerald Publishing.
Pizmony-Levy, O. (2018). Compare globally, interpret locally: international assessments and news media in Israel. Globalisation, Societies and Education.. https://doi.org/10.1080/14767724.2018.1531236.
Ranson, S. (2003). Public accountability in the age of neo-liberal governance. Journal of Education Policy, 18(5), 459–480.
Resnik, J. (2011). The construction of a managerial education discourse and the involvement of philanthropic entrepreneurs: The case of Israel. Critical Studies in Education, 52(3), 251–266.
Resnik, J. (2012). The transformation of education policy in Israel. In G. Steiner-Khamsi & F. Waldow (Eds.), World yearbook of education 2012: Policy borrowing and lending in education. New York: Routledge.
Rutkowski, D. J. (2007). Converging us softly: how intergovernmental organizations promote neoliberal educational policy. Critical Studies in Education, 48(2), 229–247.
Saporta, I. (2007, October 12). Teachers strike and workers in general. Haokets. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.haokets.org. (in Hebrew).
Shahar, I. (2006, March 5). We will cancel the Dovrat reform. NRG. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/055/861.html. (in Hebrew).
Steiner-Khamsi, G. (Ed.). (2004). The global politics of educational borrowing and lending. New York: Teachers College Press.
Streeck, W., & Thelen, K. A. (2005). Introduction: Institutional change in advanced political economies. In W. Streek & K. Thelen (Eds.), Beyond continuity (pp. 1–39). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Street, C., & Ward, K. (2010). Retrospective case study. In A. J. Mills, G. Durepos, & E. Wiebe (Eds.), Encyclopedia of case study research (pp. 825–827). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Weisman, L. (2007, June 6). I’m tough, I’m an angel. Globes. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1000218682. (in Hebrew).
Yemini, M., & Gordon, N. (2017). Media representations of national and international standardized testing in the Israeli education system. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 38(2), 262–276.
Yin, R. K. (1981). The case study crisis: Some answers. Administrative Science Quarterly, 26(1), 58–65.
Yonah, Y., Dahan, Y., & Markovich, D. (2008). Neo-liberal reforms in Israel’s education system: The dialectics of the state. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 18(3–4), 199–217.
Zalikovich, M. (2007, October 23). The Teachers’ Union against Erez: The strike is an Ego-trip. YNET. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3462807,00.html. (in Hebrew).
Zohar, A. (2013). Challenges in wide scale implementation efforts to foster higher order thinking (HOT) in science education across a whole school system. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 10, 233–249.
Central Bureau of Statistics. (2015). Changes in the wages of teachers following the “Ofek Hadash” reform? To what degree has the reform led to improving the salaries of teaching staff and the quality of candidates for teaching?. Jerusalem: Central Bureau of Statistics. (in Hebrew).
Courage to Change. (2011). Collective wage agreement the union of secondary schools teachers and the Union of Local Authorities in Israel. Jerusalem: The State of Israel. (in Hebrew).
Dovrat Report. (2005). The national plan for education. Jerusalem: Ministry of Education. (in Hebrew).
Israeli Parliament. (2003). The ministry of education budget for 2003 and the program of reorganization. Jerusalem: The Israeli Parliament. (in Hebrew).
Israeli Parliament. (2006). Protocol 36 of the meeting of the Committee on Education, Culture and Sport. Further implementation of the Dovrat Reform. Jerusalem: Israeli Parliament. (in Hebrew).
Israeli Parliament. (2007). Protocol of the meeting of the Finance Committee. Review of the implementation of the budget policy of the ministry of education for 2007 and 2008. Jerusalem: Israeli Parliament. (in Hebrew).
Israeli Parliament. (2011a). Privately funded unique schooling tracks in the education system. Jerusalem: Israeli Parliament. (in Hebrew).
Israeli Parliament. (2011b). Employment of teachers in the education system: The phenomenon of employing teachers through intermediary organizations. Jerusalem: Israeli Parliament. (in Hebrew).
Ministry of Education. (2007). Director-General Memorandum-Standing orders 3a-3-1-30. Jerusalem: Ministry of Education. (in Hebrew).
Ministry of Education. (2012). Transition of primary schools to school-based management, presentation of superintends meeting of the northern district. Jerusalem: Ministry of Education. (in Hebrew).
New Horizon. (2008). Collective wage agreement between the Israeli government and the Israel Teachers Union. Jerusalem: The State of Israel. (in Hebrew).
RAMA. (2011). The instrument for teachers’ evaluation. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://cms.education.gov.il/EducationCMS/Units/Rama/Haarachat_Morim/Haarachat_Morim.htm. (in Hebrew).
Shoshani Report. (2003). The commission for the examination of budgeting methods in primary education. Jerusalem: Ministry of Education. (in Hebrew).
State of Israel. (2004a). Government decision no. 1886. Jerusalem: State of Israel. (in Hebrew).
State of Israel. (2004b). Government decision no. 2428. Jerusalem: State of Israel. (in Hebrew).
State of Israel. (2008). Government decision no. 2314. Jerusalem: State of Israel. (in Hebrew).
State of Israel. (2010). Government decision no. 1953. Jerusalem: State of Israel. (in Hebrew).
State of Israel. (2011). Government decision no. 2981. Jerusalem: State of Israel. (in Hebrew).
The Council for Higher Education. (2006). Decision on the topic of guiding outlines for teacher training in higher education institutions-Ariav Commission report. Jerusalem: The Council for Higher Education. (in Hebrew).
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Berkovich, I. Educational governance transition in a social democratic country: A process-tracing analysis. J Educ Change 20, 193–219 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-019-09340-8