Governing the Performance State. A Comparative Study of the Coordination Strategies in the Field of Childcare and Preschool in France, Germany and Sweden
In the European Union, the education policy, and even more strongly the field of Early Childhood Education and Care has remained a core competency of the member states. However, in spite of a sole focus on compliance, the European Union is using strategies of convergence and networking to force alignment of the member states as regard to their choice and use of governmental tools. In this context, the emergence of a Performance State defined as a “grammar of performance” conflates with EU and OECD strategies that promote Multi-Level-Governance as an instrument to bypass the competency of the member states in ECEC policy. In my research, I compare the coordination strategies of three member states and their impact on the choice and use of performance instruments and tools.
At meta-governance level the choice about how to govern the state is strongly related to values and preferences carried out by governing actors. Hence, whereas the alignment of actors and tools towards a specific pattern of governmental action is analyzed in terms of coordination, the values guiding the choice of actors are labeled as orientation. All in all, the governance of the Performance State is compared at central level in France, Germany and Sweden as a matter of orientating and coordinating the multi-level system of state agencies in the ECEC field. While the description of overall coordination strategies relies on organizational literature, its orientation is perceived through the prism of neo-institutionalism and more specifically by the lenses of institutional logics.
The methodology of research is characterized by a sequential mix-method design where qualitative data from interviews with governmental actors are first analyzed qualitatively and then transformed into a quantitative comparative dataset. Whereas different patterns of coordination strategies are operationalized according to their mechanism, axis and strength, the changing orientation of the state is identified in regard to sets of values labelled α, β and γ. Whereas for instance, α stands for efficiency and promote performance management, β represents the value of equality while fostering universal provision of ECEC services; γ implies the value of care and fosters the development of a child’s sense of identity and community. All in all, the values α, β and γ are linked to specific coordination strategies forged at the central level in France, Germany and Sweden.
Finally, my research contributes to the understanding of the problem-solving capacity of the state as providing both orientation and coordination in the European Union as a multi-level-system. In this sense, Multi-Level-Governance is not so much understood as a normative principle about the way the European Union should act, and far more as an analytical tool for discerning the complex webs of relationships between levels of governments; lastly, the implementation of EU policies should be analyzed by comparing the coordination strategies of their member states.
Letzte Änderung: 9. April 2019