From Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education
Force field analysis is an influential development in the field of social science. It provides a framework for looking at the factors (forces) that influence a situation, originally social situations but now often taken more widely especially in business.
At its simplest, forces are divided into two classes:
- Driving forces - helping or forcing movement towards a goal - also called helping forces
- Restraining forces - hindering or even blocking movement towards a goal - also called hindering forces
The scheme was developed by Kurt Lewin and is routinely used in business management (and taught in many such courses) as well as in the social sciences.
Application in Re.ViCa
At the level of countries, a tentative list of such forces might be as noted below.
(Our internal analysis tabulates these against countries, but the results on Blocking forces are too tentative as yet for release in that form.)
- National desire to compete - such as via European innovation, FP7 etc
- Foreign students pressuring local universities for better facilities - but this only works if foreigh students are coming to that country - so shades into language issue
- Country uses a world language so more open to flow of ideas and people - NB language again
- Diaspora bringing back knowhow and funds - e.g.Armenia, Rwanda, Israel, China, etc
- Pressure on HE system from an "alien" force - e.g. Bologna Process across Eastern Europe, US private universities in South America (Caribbean and Central America too) or Middle East - see liminality
- Ambitious people from powerful provider (eg national open university) move on to other institutions - possibly most in the UK - less so in Netherlands or Germany
- A funding and management system which encourages universities to compete (eg US, UK, Australia) or which really rewards collaboration (cf Switzerland)
- A tradition of the children of the decision-making classes being educated abroad especially for MSc and PhD but coming back home
- Dominant but conservative lead provider - eg the national open university in some cases - or the national state university in many small states
- A disrupted society where people look for short-term advantage out of universities (contacts, emigration etc) and universities will not invest - one can do a lot of teaching with a good teacher and nothing much else - as Socrates knew - (many war-harassed states)
- Over-zealous traditional regulatory regime (some South American and Asian countries)
- Government with short-term horizons driven by the voters and the media (no comment)