Dissertation Abstracts

Social construction of policy repertoires: The case of framing the OECD activation policy recommendations (1983-2012)

Author: Gal Zohar, gal.zohar@mail.huji.ac.il
Department: Sociology Department and The Federmann School of Public Policy and Government
University: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Supervisor: Frenkel, Michal & Levi-Faur, David
Year of completion: 2016
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: OECD , Activation , International Organizations , Translation/Diffusion
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Historical and Comparative Sociology , Work


This is an article-based dissertation, which includes three papers: I. The Polymorphous Faces of Policy Processes: A Case Study of the OECD Activation Policy 1983–2012 Policies, and the policy processes that shape them, are not monomorphic but polymorphic plans. They have many facets and the interactions of these facets vary in time in a way which allows us to get a more nuanced view of how activation policy develops over time and creates inherently distinct and ideologically different types of policies. These arguments are demonstrated by how one organization – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – has developed these various facets by creating qualitatively different policies, and bringing them together under the title of activation. The facets themselves are captured by two different dimensions: Conditionality and human capital. Each dimension has three different additional facets. I employ a systematic analysis of the development of this policy over three decades via manual coding of the organization’s major annual reports for the last three decades (1983–2012). The coding allows us to identify four different activation regimes – the Social Democrat; the Minimal; the Neoliberal; and the Inclusive. These regimes expose how the main activation dimensions evolve over time and thus provide a nuanced understanding of how the meaning of activation emerged and then changed over time. II. Institutionalization of the OECD Grand-Narrative of Inclusivity (1983-2012) The purpose of the second paper is to explore the emplotment of organizational grand-narratives of a leading international organization, the organization for economic and development (OECD). The paper includes the reconstruction of the OECD's inclusion approach as a prototype grand-narrative. Moreover, the paper focuses on understanding the reciprocal relationship between the narratives and other organizational domains (i.e. organizational-epistemological settings, and organizational products). The context I chose to demonstrate this dynamic is the OECD evolving interactions between inner-organizational units and the organizational products (i.e., its activation policy recommendations), of the OECD post-Cold War inclusive approach (1989-2002). This article's analytical framework provides a deeper understanding of the complex interplay between the constraining structures and micro-level interactions. III. Contested Identities at a Global Hub - Western Identity and the OECD Activation Policy Repertoire Numerous studies have been published on the diffusion of policies or geopolitical discourses of international organizations. The current paper augments prior studies by focusing on the organizational framing process of policy repertoires, which includes a multiplicity of institutional logics and the thread that binds these logics, organizational identity. This paper highlights the process by which epistemic knowledge and organizational identity are incorporated into a constantly changing repertoire, which international organizations disseminate. By following the framing process, the paper explores how contested logics constantly interact, dismantle, or reorganize into a constantly changing, but narrow, repertoire. The context in which we chose to demonstrate this dynamic involves the evolving interactions between the geopolitical identity of the OECD, a leading global trendsetting agent, and the activation policy repertoires the organization disperses.