Innovation funds and higher education reform: a case study of Argentina's FOMEC and PROMEI
This thesis seeks to explain the formulation of innovation funds in the Argentine higher education system. It is a case study of two innovation funds in Argentina: the Fund for University Quality Improvement (FOMEC) which ran from 1995 to 2004 and the Project for the Improvement of Engineering Teaching (PROMEI) which began in 2005 and is projected to continue implementation until 2008. First, I examined similarities and differences between FOMEC and PROMEI's design (objectives, organizational structure, evaluation process and financial resources). Once I had compared the designs of the programs as innovation funds, I wanted to know what effect certain independent variables (actors and contexts) had on those designs. I therefore used a process tracing to analyze the causal chain by which FOMEC and PROMEI were created. I conducted nine semi-structured interviews with program staff, university professors and academics. I found that the policy learning which occurred as a result of FOMEC and the bureaucratic capacity installed as a result of 1990s reforms in Argentine higher education facilitated the formulation of PROMEI to the extent that its design was incremental in nature. In addition, I found that three elements were essential for innovation fund design: a policy entrepreneur, an improving economy and a certain amount of state capacity.
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