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165 Working Paper

When Can a Weak Process Generate Strong Results ? Entrepreneurial Alliances in the Bologna Process to Create a European Higher Education Area

2008 – Barbara G. Haskel


This paper attempts to explain how an intergovernmental process among four countries to "harmonize" the "architecture" of their higher education systems in under ten years turned into an "OMC-type" process with a full role for the European Commission and a membership of forty-six countries, a system which appears to have had some substantial results. The paper argues that the speed of the process is accounted for by a "coordination imperative," and that the sustainability (institutionalization) of the process has been a product of the initiatives for goals, instruments, support structures, and measurements generated by an "entre preneurial alliance" composed of the Commission and the European Universities Association as "drivers" of the process and as solver of a collective action problem among social actors interested in university re form, in the context of a permissive consensus of the member states.