Direction of Innovations in the German Education System: The Development of the 'Autonomy of Schools' Discussion From a National Perspective

Direction of innovations in the German education system: The development of the 'Autonomy of Schools' discussion from a national perspective

Project description

The reasons for the federal organisation of the German education system have changed over the last years. In addition to the use of the cultural diversity argument as a justification of the Länder, more emphasis has now been placed on the argument of innovation. This argument states that the federal organisation of education allows for greater opportunities to appy new approaches. Thereby it becomes easier to experiment with new ideas but also to limit developments that go into the wrong direction. This new argument of a 'competition of innovation' assumes a rationality in political discussions that has been regularly questioned especially in German education policy. Party-political and ideological confrontations and conflicts have been identified in the second part of the 20th century as a central element of the formation of a discourse within education policy. However, there are no empirical research data – neither for the 'old' Federal Republic nor for the changed environment of the federal organisation of education in a unified Germany – that analyses structure, development and conditions of success of innovation transfer of educational policy between the Länder.

This research project (dissertation) examined the political idea of 'Increased Autonomy of Schools' as a case study for the diffusion of innovation in the federal education system. Thereby, the theoretical framework and the methodology of the research based on the "Event History Analysis" drawn from American federalism research. The methodology has been adjusted to maximise the use of the concept for local conditions and German educational science research. The laws, decrees and administrative regulations of the Länder were analysed as documents of policy innovation with reference to an increased autonomy of schools. The results have been coded and compared by applying quantitative methods.


Rürup, Matthias (2007): Innovationswege im deutschen Bildungssystem. Die Verbreitung der Idee "Schulautonomie" im Ländervergleich. – Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag.

Project Details

Completed Projects
Department: Educational Governance