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This review essay discusses the history, evolution and development of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and traces the growing impact of its education work. The essay is in four main sections. The first discusses Carrol and Kellow’s The OECD: A Study of Organizational Adaptation (Edward Elgar) and provides a brief historical account of the Organisation. The second section reviews Woodward’s The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (Routledge) and considers the different modes of governance employed by the OECD, particularly its exercise of soft power through peer review. The third section considers Tucker’s edited book, Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems (Harvard Education Press) and the effects that Shanghai-China’s 2009 (PISA) success has had on education policy debates in the USA and globally. The final section engages with Sahlberg’s Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn From Educational Change in Finland? (Teachers College Press) and describes factors that have contributed to the high quality and equity of schooling in Finland. The review essay thus moves from an examination of the role and function of the OECD in general terms to more specific discussion of the recent impact of its PISA, which has drawn attention to particular school systems and has influenced education policy-making in both member and non-member countries. We conclude by providing a framework for understanding the epistemological and infrastructural governance functions of the OECD in education globally.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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