Transformations of goal implementation in Swedish higher education - pedagogy, profession and politics in the process of managing by goals

Anders Persson
Lund University, Lund, Sweden

All Swedish higher education became, in principle, managed by goals as a result of the 2007 Bologna Reform. That reform is based on a certain way of relating different kinds of knowledge to each other in accordance with Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives and the Solo Taxonomy of learning outcomes. On the grounds of Bologna, the Qualifications Ordinance that is part of the Higher Education Ordinance, separates different learning outcomes in relation to "knowledge and understanding", "competence and skills" and "judgment and approach". In this paper, the transformations of higher education goal implementation are described since the first wave of mass education in the 1960s, over the second wave in the 1990s, to the Bologna reform of 2007. The growth of mass education from the early 1960s is a mechanism that seems to make Swedish higher education, firstly, more purposeful, secondly, more goal-directed and, finally, more managed by goals. Against this background the paper gives a preliminary answer to the following question: How are pedagogy, profession and politics mixed in the process of goal formulation in Swedish higher education? The paper is part of "Micro practices in goal-steering ‑ an ethnographic study of social, professional, and political interactions in Swedish higher education goal-setting processes 1993-2014", a research project studying social, professional and political interactions in those processes where goals in higher education, in practice, come into existence. The project has a marked empirical emphasis and is framed theoretically by Goffmanian inspired theory on "the social interaction order." A conclusion drawn from the investigation reported in the present paper is that the most apparent development tendency in the evolution of goal implementation in higher education is that political control becomes more and more detailed. This become apparent in the Bologna reform 2007, a reform that results in a political grip on the micro level of managing by goals by using an already established goal machinery, the Qualifications Ordinance, to control the formulation of learning outcomes.