An anatomy of authority: the Bologna and ASEM education secretariats as policy actors and region builders

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This paper examines the sources of authority behind the Bologna and ASEM secretariats’ technocratic appearance and administrative routines, and argues that they are transnational policy actors in their own right. By drawing on principal-agent theory and the concept of ‘authority’, it offers an alternative framework for understanding the various forms of authority. The case studies generate three important insights. First, it shows how the secretariats derive their authority from the tasks delegated by states, the moral values and social purpose they uphold, and the expertise they possess. Second, it compares how the different governance structures of the Bologna and ASEM education processes impact on the secretariats’ authority. Third, it highlights how the secretariats exercise their respective authorities and exert their discernible influence at different stages of higher education policy-making and region-building processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-267
Number of pages14
JournalGlobalisation, Societies and Education
Issue number2
Early online date8 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Globalisation, Societies and Education on 08/12/2017, available online:]

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


  • authority
  • power
  • regional secretariat
  • higher education
  • Bologna Process
  • ASEM


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