Agents of change and policies of scale : A policy study of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise in Education

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to describe and understand the introduction of entrepreneurship and enterprise projects in primary and secondary schools in the North of Sweden and to identify and analyse the driving forces and actors behind this process. In particular the influence and significance of education policy at supranational, national and subnational level for the introduction of entrepreneurship and enterprise in education are analysed. The main questions of the study have been: • How and why have entrepreneurship and enterprise education come to the schools in the northern region of Sweden, in particular within the framework of the PRIO1 project? • How were important stakeholders involved at the subnational level and how did they reason and act in relation to the introduction of entrepreneurship and enterprise in the schools? • How are the concepts of entrepreneurship and enterprise education presented in policy documents at different policy levels? The study wants to report on changes in education policy during recent years. Especially the emergence of international policy convergence and new forms of governance are among the factors that are considered. Drawing on a conceptual framework of structure and agency, the analyses in the empirical studies are informed by a combination of theoretical fields. Important contributions are rendered from the education policy literature. The first method consists of a policy study of documents produced by organisations at different levels (supranational, national and subnational). The purpose of this analysis is to capture the ideas and arguments that have been used but also to understand the context and driving forces for the introduction of entrepreneurship and enterprise in education. Starting from the supranational level, the analysis focuses mainly on two organisations, OECD and EU. These organisations were chosen because they are widely regarded as leading organisations in setting the supranational policy agenda for education. The document study consists of a selection of OECD documents that have been released during the period 1970 - 2006, as well as a selection of EU documents. The EU documents cover the last 15 years. Attention is paid to several documents at the national and subnational level as well. The second method is an interview study. The interview study aims to focus on some of the key stakeholders (agents/actors) that have been participating in the formation (initiation, financing and realisation) of a county wide project “PRIO1”, Priority Enterprise in Västerbotten, in the North of Sweden. In order to understand why and how these actors at the subnational level have become involved in the process, there exists a need to hear their arguments. The document study shows that there is interplay between the different levels, but intertextual aspects have also become visible. The policy drive and policy scope show the concatenation but also the complexity of the policy development. Education is increasingly related to economic policies, in particular through labour market policies. Although the concepts of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise have developed within the economic sector, they are penetrating the education and training systems of many countries. From the results presented in this study, it seems that lifelong learning has become the guiding principle for the amalgamation of education and the world of work, while learning is no longer equated with just schooling. The opening of the school towards the surrounding world is a characteristic development in all this, but it is also a process that certainly is stipulated by agencies and actors at different levels, as is shown in this study. The interviews with some stakeholders at the subnational level show that the promotion of entrepreneurship and enterprise in education is related to arguments for economic and societal development. The interviews also reveal some of the “bottom-up” aspects of the policy process. One of the important results of this study is that the education policy studies have to include the level beyond the national borders. The interplay between the different policy-levels (supranational, national and subnational) needs more attention in order to understand the transformation of the education system.