Completed Projects

Education Reforms in Baden-Württemberg

The regional government of the German state Baden-Württemberg has been led by the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) for decades. In 2011, though, a coalition of the Greens and the SPD (Social-democratic Party of Germany) was elected and initiated many reforms, especially in the education system. Although it is too early to thoroughly evaluate the impacts and (longer term) consequences of these reforms, a systematic analysis of the assessments of experts and persons concerned can be helpful for future developments in education policy. An encompassing and neutral presentation of their experiences and assessments can be integrated into governmental discussions and, as a basis for decision processes, it can contribute to structural improvements of conditions in the education system in Baden-Württemberg. This is the aim of the study on “Education Reforms in Baden-Württemberg” that was tendered by the FES (Friedrich-Ebert Foundation) in April 2015.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Marius R. Busemeyer

Project researchers: Susanne Haastert, M.A.

Duration: May, 21st - September, 30th, 2015

Volume: 16,000€

Sponsor: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung


Emmy-Noether-Project: The Politics of Education and Training Reforms in Western Welfare States

The Emmy Noether Project "The Politics of Education and Training Reforms in Western Welfare States" analyzed vocational training and higher education systems and their historical and political origins from an internationally comparative perspective. The project was funded by the German Research Foundation's (DFG) Emmy Noether Program from January 1, 2011 until July 31, 2015.

A comparison of the education systems of Western democracies revealed significant differences, for example with regard to the importance of vocational education and training, the level of education spending, the role of private providers or the degree of educational inequalities. Sweden, for instance, spends above average on all sectors of the education systems, educational inequality is low, and vocational education is integrated into the general comprehensive secondary school system. In Germany, firm-based apprenticeship training dominates secondary education, higher education is under-financed, and educational inequalities are significant. Finally, in the United Kingdom, vocational education has a subordinated role vis-a-vis higher education and is organized primarily via market relationships.

The project aimed at answering which institutional and political factors have led to the establishment of these different education systems. Primarily, we were interested in the case of Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom, although other countries such as Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, the United States, Ireland, and Japan were also analyzed. Moreover, OECD-wide large-n analyses were conducted. The time period of analysis was from the end of WWII until today. Die central working hypothesis was that the actions of government parties during critical junctures in historical development were decisive in the establishment of different development paths. Partisan ideologies, strategies and preferences are, however, embedded in political and socio-econmic institutions. Therefore, the analysis of the linkage between partisan politics and varieties of capitalism with regard to the establishment of different skill regimes is the main theoretical contribution of the project.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Marius Busemeyer

Project researchers: Dr. Janis Vossiek, Dr. Julian L. Garritzmann; former project researchers: Dr. Michael Dobbins, Dr. Raphaela Schlicht-Schmälzle

Governing Complex Education Systems - Germany Case Study

The larger project Governing Complex Education Systems of the OECD analyses the new challenges that have emerged for the governance of education in most economically developed democracies, which can be subsumed under the label of “increased complexity”. Complexity has not only risen due to demographics, technological change or the challenges of the knowledge society: Pupils, parents and other educational stakeholders have become more diverse and more demanding in terms of education performance, which is associated with a demand for comparable data on relative school performance and student achievement (i. e. educational monitoring).

While one of the most important policy reactions to these trends has been the decentralization of decision-making from the national to the local level with concomitant involvement of local stakeholders, the present case study is devoted to Germany as a case where reform reactions to increasing complexity in education face special obstacles; Being a federalist country, the challenge of governing the complex education system is even more pronounced compared to other countries: the local and the regional (Land) level share many responsibilities in the provision and financing of education, while the federal level retains only a limited capacity to intervene directly, in particular after the reform of German federalism in 2006 further strengthened the role of states (Länder) in education policy-making.

Against this background, we analyse the “Lernen vor Ort” (LvO – “Learning Locally”)-program of the German federal government that is intended to strengthen and develop education monitoring and education management at the local level. Nevertheless, given the formally limited role of the Federal Government, the central question of the proposed case study is to what extent the LvO program has been an effective aid in the development and exchange of knowledge as well as the cooperation of different education stakeholders on the local level. Empirically, this case study empirically relies on more than 90 expert interviews with education stakeholders and policy experts at different levels of government as well as an extensive media and document analysis. In our report, we shed light on the general backgrounds of education policy in Germany, the structure and characteristics of LvO and deepen the analysis with 5 case studies of the implementation and perception of the programme on the local level to identify its strengths, weaknesses, and impact on education governance in light of the special obstacles education reforms face in Germany.

Projekt manager: Prof. Dr. Marius Busemeyer


ERC Project "Investing in Education in Europe" / INVEDUC

Details on this completed project can be found here.