Economic goals, quality discourse and the narrowing of European state education

Donald Gillies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quality management theory pervades education policy across Europe. In this article its prevalence is examined through analysis of policy texts drawn from 16 different state systems in Europe, as well as from the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The article argues that Quality discourse has served to reshape educational provision in ways borrowed from the private sector and within a predominantly market paradigm. In a parallel development, economic purposes have become the primary goal of European state education systems and Quality discourse is the means by which these economic ends are realised. The article argues that Quality has not simply become a dominant managerial approach but that Quality discourse is now so embedded within educational discourse that its concepts and language are the ways by which education policy frames and communicates its concerns. This phenomenon has served to narrow the ends of education and to reconfigure the educational experience within a business model which may not best serve broader human goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-118
Number of pages16
JournalEducation, Knowledge and Economy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • European Union
  • organisation for economic co-operation and development
  • quality
  • neoliberalism
  • knowledge economy
  • discourse


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