How auctions shape the value of education: Tendering-based procurement as management tool in adult education

Diana Holmqvist (2024)

European Educational Research Journal, Online first, open access

Abstract. Management tools do more than manage and organise – they classify and contribute to the construction of education-as-concept. This article shows how tendering-based procurement, used by Swedish municipalities to outsource adult education to non-public providers, works to commensurate ‘education’ into measurable tender evaluation criteria. Drawing on the sociology of conventions approach and 47 procurement examples, I show that tendering evaluation criteria define what constitutes ‘desirable’ education through various degrees of commensuration. Further, I show how mechanisms intended to evaluate and compare bids also construct the value of education different – for example, promoting cost-efficiency as valuable; constructing education as an on-demand service; or by assuming a supply-and-demand approach and viewing value as fluid. Based on the exemplified commensurations and valuations, I discuss the consequences of education privatization via tendering-based procurement. Since competition is inherently built into the tool, it becomes valuable. Further, procurement recasts education stakeholders into market roles and reshapes their relationships. In short, the article underscores the importance of understanding how education privatization is organized and what role management tools play in shaping education, calling for critical education research to delve into their dynamics and impact.

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GdL (2024, 8 avril). How auctions shape the value of education: Tendering-based procurement as management tool in adult education. Économie des conventions. Consulté le 17 juin 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/w6id