Advocacy Networks and Market Models for Education

  • Christopher Lubienski


In much of the world, policymakers, philanthropists, and experts are demanding evidence on the effectiveness of proposed approaches for addressing issues, often as an indicator of the suitability of different interventions for receiving funding and support. But in education policy in particular, there are serious questions not only about the degree to which policies are actually evidence based but also how evidence is produced, whether it is useful, how policymakers access or use evidence on policy proposals, and how new forms of advocacy networks convey ideas across time and space, and perhaps—in doing so—re-shape those ideas. Into the space between research production and policymaking, we are seeing the entrance of new actors—networks of intermediaries—that seek to collect, interpret, package, and promote evidence for policymakers to use in forming their decisions. In this chapter, I briefly review a number of approaches to considering policy transfer, focusing on education issues in general, and market-based policies in particular. I then outline the concept of advocacy networks, and highlight the emerging role of intermediaries within those networks. Then after considering some of the current approaches to understanding how policy ideas transfer across nodes, actors, and contexts, this chapter describes an ongoing, multi-site study that examines this issue through a mixed-methods investigation of actors working in policy networks. In reporting some of the findings from the study, this chapter notes a few of the limitations of one of the most popular theoretical perspectives for understanding such networks. The concluding discussion introduces some theoretical considerations for analyzing policy transfer through a lens of economic transaction.



The author would like to thank his colleagues on the RIO project, especially Professors Elizabeth DeBray and Janelle Scott, whose thinking has influenced the argument in this chapter. Of course, the author alone is responsible for the interpretations and analyses in this chapter. An earlier version of this chapter was published in Policy Futures in Education, Vol. 16(2): 156–168.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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