Governing the Accreditation System - for comment - PEP - Promoting Economic Pluralism

Governing the Accreditation System – for comment

We need to make sure that the accreditation system upholds –  and importantly develops –  the values and spirit of economic pluralism in teaching. It also needs to be accountable to the wider stakeholder community. So how can we do that? Here are some initial thoughts for your comment.

We have looked at other similar schemes. They tend to organise their governance around two identifiable but overlapping groups:

  • Stakeholders in the scheme – in our case probably includes most directly lecturers, course directors, employers and students. But probably anyone with an interest in how our economies are organised.
  • Experts relevant to the scheme – in our case means experts in economic pluralism who have studied and/or practiced economic pluralism in teaching.

From these groups then, they create 3 bodies:

This may seem overly complex but in actual fact it could be quite practical. The Board could be relatively small (5-10 people) and meet (online) relatively regularly on a needs basis (maybe quarterly). The other groups could be larger and meet online annually or more often if there is a demand.

The group of experts would probably be the same as the peer group suggested for reviewing applications for accreditation – see here.

The major challenge will probably be ensuring diversity of involvement.  We would clearly want to be internationally inclusive. Hopefully making meetings online will help with this. We may also want to consider some face to face events to build dialogue, learning and relationships.

This is very much a starter for 10. I would very much welcome your thoughts. There must be many people in our community who have experience of governance of other international associations which can help us avoid any pitfalls. I look forward to hearing from you.

7 responses to “Governing the Accreditation System – for comment

  1. The idea of pluralistic input to the scope of pluralistic economics seems so obvious. I share Nicolette’s anxiety about misdirection. Surely that speaks to the wisdom of developing pluralistic economics within a framework that is moulded from people with a direct connection with teaching/learning it. The framework can then inform the multiple stakeholders which content would be most valuable.

  2. This all sounds sensible and doable, though I agree with Nicolette’s comments that both approaches to selection of board members have drawbacks. Perhaps a two stage process might be best. IE For the first 3-5 years, when there’s little or no organisational infrastructure to draw on, the board could be appointed by eg the board of PEP (being an independent charity set up more or less for the purpose). After that, assuming the stakeholder support element is developed, then both the stakeholders body and the experts body (or if preferred, their constituencies) could elect, say, 3 board members each and the PEP board could appoint a further 3 or 4 (which could of course be some of its own), therefore assuming a board of 9 or 10. By this means, you get both adequate representation, but also PEP can ensure adequate balance and spread of expertise.

    There is also the question of the accreditation board (or final assessment board). In the first instance I feel this could be the board itself. Or it could be the experts body, which would then leave the board to be the appeals body, in the event of there being any.

  3. I think the Board-Stakeholder-Expert structure and approach is the right one to achieve the purpose and objectives for governance set out in the opening paragraph. It also makes sense that the expert group is much the same as the peer group reviewing accreditation applications and I too think that making meetings online will help ensure international inclusivity.

    But I see challenges in
    1. securing the involvement of a sufficiently diverse stakeholder group, especially those whose stake in, knowledge of, or ability to influence outcomes are relatively low.
    2. ensuring that Board is responsive to and is effective in advancing the interests of many, diverse and often diffuse stakeholders.

    In my experience of governance arrangements for special purpose partnerships (admittedly local and regional rather than international), overcoming the pitfalls associated with these twin-challenges require being very careful from the outset to map the interests, perspectives and relative influence of stakeholders (rather than just listing the large and obvious ones), and ensuring that the Stakeholder Body can capture them (e.g. by setting up bespoke communication channels for harder to reach stakeholder groups). Similar attention needs to be placed on how Board members are selected. (In my experience both election by members of the special purpose community and criteria led approaches have their drawbacks.)

  4. It looks great, would a potential stakeholder be the Rethinking Macroeconomics? Although their main focus in macroeconomics, I would expect them to have an interest in economics teaching in general. This is UK centred, but for UK institutions I imagine that it would be a good endorsement if Rethinking Macroeconomics were supportive.

    I agree with Kevin’s last point, perhaps trade union representatives or representatives from research institutions so as to signal that teaching pluralism is directly linked with the research frontier in practice.

    Having to many of the same people on both boards and as experts or stakeholders could perhaps yield some legitimacy issues seen from the outside. A club checking itself sort of. This might be difficult in practice initially, but it should be a long-term goal. It would also mean that more people were involved.

    Thanks for all the good work!

  5. This looks intersting.

    I would imagine that the RES might consider themselves stakeholders, not to mention the Treasury and perhaps the BoE. On top of that, perhaps think tanks which paractice pluralisam (e.g. NEF).

    On the experts side, we ought also to have practitioners.

    1. The RES is more than likely to consider itself a stakeholder, if it bothers to engage with these plans, but I’d suggest the latter is unlikely in view of its record.

      Also in view of its record, should it be *allowed* to have a voice, given that its annual conference would probably fail all the proposed accreditation criteria.

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