Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


University of Wollongong - Faculty of Education


Mahony, Mary Jane. 1994. Warp and Weft in Policy Analysis: Australian Distance Education Policy Formation, Formulation and Implementation 1901-1989. A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree, Doctor of Philosophy (Policy Studies in Education), at the University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.

Descriptors: policy research, organisational studies, higher education, distance education, discontinuity, change, institutional isomorphism, systems, Australia.

Why do distance education and conventional education continue as separate entities in Australian higher education? One answer to this question is the role which distance education has played as an instrument of public policy.

The research design used a grounded theory methodology (Glaser & Strauss 1967; Saran 1985) in association with the policy space heuristic (Fasano 1993) in a post hoc longitudinal study of distance education policy development and implementation in Australian higher education from its first introduction at the University of Queensland in 1911 to implementation of the Australian federal government's White Paper on Higher Education (released in 1988). An interpretative metaphor of woven cloth is also used as an explanatory tool.

A change-centred policy process analysis model is presented with the roles of discontinuity, key agents, and the bridging mechanisms of an open systems perspective, particularly institutional isomorphism, emphasised. Suggestions for futher research and possible change strategies in Australian distance education policy making are made, as well as some further recommendations for research within the general-field of policy studies.

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