The non-binding nature of the Bologna Agreement and loose policy-making and implementation through the open method of coordination (OMC) has led to varied national responses to the Bologna Process. The OMC has allowed countries room for manoeuvre to interpret Bologna policy and attach different degrees of importance to it. Looking at the interplay between agency and structure in policy implementation, this paper aims to illustrate the localised character of Bologna policy implementation driven by national priorities and political agendas, a reflection of the ‘policy as text’ metaphor (Ball, 1994).
The analysis is mainly driven by an agentic understanding of the policy process, highlighting ‘actors’ perceptions, perspectives, preferences, actions and interactions’ (Trowler, 2002). Three different country reactions are examined – England, Portugal and Denmark – described as selective acquiescence, creative commitment and strategic conformity to capture the essence of the cases in question. In analysing the countries’ responses, the article considers national readings of Bologna, motivations behind responses to the Process, as well as its reception and implementation at national level.