© 2019

The OECD’s Historical Rise in Education

The Formation of a Global Governing Complex

  • Christian Ydesen

Part of the Global Histories of Education book series (GHE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Background of the OECD’s Rise to the Role as a Global Authority in Education

  3. The Impact of OECD Educational Initiatives and Programs in National Contexts

  4. OECD’s Education Initiatives and Programs in a Global Perspective

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 305-308

About this book


This edited volume focuses on the historical role of the OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in shaping global education policy. In this book, contributors shed light on the present-day perspective of Comparative Education as a logical addition to current scholarship on the history of international organizations in the field of education. Doing so, the book provides a deeper understanding of contemporary developments in education that will enable us to reflect critically on the trajectories and future developments of education worldwide.


Global education International organizations OECD Comparative Education Swiss VET System PISA

Editors and affiliations

  • Christian Ydesen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Culture and LearningAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

About the editors

Christian Ydesen is Professor in the Department of Culture and Learning at Aalborg University, Denmark.

Bibliographic information


“The new behemoths of international education organizations demand sophisticated analyses, allowing the scholar to place them in considered temporal spaces. Through the idea of the governing complex, this excellent collection of studies allows the reader to study the historical and policy frameworks through which the OECD attempts to influence national education systems. It is a complex relation as cases and actions may be interconnected, transformed, or disrupted, and not—as often assumed—simple.” (Martin Lawn, Professorial Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh, Scotland)

“In an era of globalization, this book stands out as an important contribution by historicizing the mission and role of the OECD. The choice of perspectives provides explanatory power to understand the nexus of global formations and historical trajectories shaped by the OECD over the last seventy years. Fluently written and rich by the substantive use of theories and evidence. Highly recommended.” (Kirsten Sivesind, Associate Professor, Department of Education, University of Oslo, Norway)

“The OECD and its different tools are now common names among education stakeholders worldwide. Yet, we know little about how the OECD became such an influential international organization in education. This book provides empirical and theoretical explorations of this theme, and the story that emerges is complex and multi-layered. Ydesen has assembled superb scholars in an enterprise that is truly more than the sum of its parts. The book is essential reading for scholars interested in the study of international organizations and their interaction with educational systems worldwide.” (Oren Pizmony-Levy, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education, Department of International and Transcultural Studies, Columbia University, USA)

“Combining policy studies with historical analysis, the book peeks under the veneer of the OECD and explores the mechanisms, conversations, and internal contestations that led to its current position of power in global education. Drawing on unique documentary sources, authors track the life of the OECD not as a unified mass but as a complex organization, interdependent of its social-cultural-historical surroundings and clinging to its original view of education as an economic production function.” (William C. Smith, Senior Lecturer in Education and International Development, University of Edinburgh, Scotland)

“This edited collection carefully and insightfully unpacks the politics and practices of the rise of the OECD as a significant research and policy actor in global education governance. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the hold that comparative learning assessments have over education policy, the politics of this, and what the implications are for education and society at large.” (Sotiria Grek, Senior Lecturer of Social Policy, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, Scotland)