New article explains the introduction and termination of algorithm-based university admission in France

In their newest article published in the journal Policy Studies, Georg Wenzelburger and Kathrin Hartmann analyze why an algorithm-based university admission system in France, Admission Post Bac (APB), was introduced in 2008 but already has been abolished ten years later without having a proper alternative at hand. In order to study both, the rise and the fall of APB, they combine the theoretical assumptions of the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF) with the literature on policy formation.

The base of the empirical analysis is formed by the use of process tracing, developing an “event history map” (see figure below) in order to connect empirical evidence from the case study with the theoretical assumptions. The empirical evidence in this case was delivered through primary documents (official ministerial reports, different publications of auditing boards and parliamentary documents), confidential documents and the conduction of ten semi-structured expert interviews with actors being involved in the policy process.

The results of the analysis show that the problem stream and the political stream were ripe and facilitated policy change in both cases, a policy entrepreneur coupling a policy solution with the open window could only be found for the introduction of APB. Termination was instead characterized mainly by enormous problem pressure.

These findings do not only contribute to the theoretical refinement of the MSF but also to the scarce empirical literature on political dynamics in the field of algorithmic governance.

Kathrin Hartmann