Quality, reliability or innovation?

Publication number: 2016-69
Authors: P. Bisschop, M. Imandt, A. van der Vegt & M. Bomhof
Commissioned by: Doorbraakproject Onderwijs & ICT
Published by: SEO Amsterdam Economics
ISBN: 978-90-6733-829-5

SEO Amsterdam Economics and Oberon were commissioned by the steering committee of the Doorbraakproject Onderwijs & ICT (literally: Breakthrough Project Education & ICT) to study the functioning of the market for learning materials for primary education. The aim of this study was to gain insight into developments in and the functioning of the market for learning materials in primary education.

The main conclusions are:

  1. The supply of learning materials is tailored to the needs of the majority of schools. Guaranteed quality, reliability and a carefree solution are the criteria for many schools to purchase learning materials. In this sense, the market is functioning properly.
  2. For two reasons, the main risk to effective competition in the market for learning materials is the dominance of two school suppliers (Heutink and the Rolf Groep):
    a)     Competition between the two parties is limited.
    b)     The school advice of school suppliers plays an important role in the purchasing decisions of schools, whereas the basis for the advice is unclear.
  3. The innovation and digitalization of learning materials is a step-by-step process and is evolving too slow according to some parties. This is due to the conservative demand of schools and the behaviour of producers of learning materials. Rapid innovation would negatively affect their earnings model. This would be expected to change if schools would demand different products from the market on a large scale.
  4. The wishes of schools, teachers, parents and pupils with regard to digital services promote a growing interdependence of services and products. This increasing interdependence raises questions about the market accessibility for new entrants, the extent to which suppliers compete, direction and demand aggregation by schools in order to offer innovative mass, and the role of the government in promoting a free market and innovation.

Category: 2016, Paul Bisschop, Labour & Education