By Susan Robertson

In 2018 the OECD added a set of global competence measures to its PISA programme, and reported on the outcomes in November 2020. In this paper I explore the provenance of the idea of global competence underpinning the OECD-PISA Global Competence framework and measure. The official account by the OECD references the OECD PISA Governing Board, Expert Panels, National Teams and Consortia engaged in the creation and delivery of this assessment tool. However, in this paper I problematise this narrative and sketch out an alternate genealogy that seems to operate in the shadowlands of the official account. I describe a web of relationships and projects and identify nodal actors like Asia Society, experts and brokers in élite US universities, agencies involved in the circulation of results. I argue that this rendering of global competence is not only provincial in that its ideational base can be linked to US corporate interests, but its pedagogical impulse is in shaping the culture of the new capitalism, on the one hand, and managing its tendencies to reduce social cohesion, on the other.