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Exploring the interweaving of contrary currents: transnational policy enactment and path-dependent policy implementation in Australia and Japan

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This article explores the neo-institutional theory of global policy convergence, or ‘isomorphism’, by comparatively examining one of its most recent manifestations – the global diffusion of national standardised testing – in Australia and Japan. By understanding the particular configurations of national testing as being conditioned by both nations' institutional frameworks and historical legacies of education policy development, this study illuminates how the conditioning effects of these frameworks and legacies resulted in the divergent ways in which a policy model circulating at the transnational level became translated into assessment policies that are ‘simultaneously similar and different’. These findings are related to the concept of ‘path dependency’, emphasised in particular by political science and historical institutionalism. The theoretical conclusions drawn on this basis indicate a promising direction of comparative education research, one that recognises global convergence and national divergence as processes that simultaneously shape the globalisation of education policy. In so doing, they summarise the implications of the study for the ongoing debate on the neo-institutionalist theory in comparative education.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Education,University of New England, Armidale, Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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