The rise in globalisation studies in comparative education places neo-institutional theory at the centre of many debates among comparative education researchers. However, uncertainty about how to interpret neo-institutional theory still persists among educational comparativists. With this uncertainty comes misinterpretation of its principles, variations and explanatory power. Two problematic misconceptions prevail: (1) the belief that the ‘world culture’ strand is the only version of neo-institutional theory applicable to comparative education research; and (2) the assumption that the global homogenisation of society, culture and schooling is a goal of researchers applying neo-institutional theory to comparative education phenomena. This article addresses these misconceptions, elucidating neo-institutional theory and its applicability to comparative education research. Our findings suggest that neo-institutional frameworks for comparative education research are useful, but that complementary approaches and methods are also necessary.
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