Over the past 30 years, quality assurance in higher education has rapidly developed on a global scale and become a widely studied research topic. However, a good deal of the research on this issue has been subject to an instrumental bias. The attention given to the technical features and expected results of quality assurance has overshadowed the analysis of its political and symbolic dimensions. This article argues that the political sociology of public policy instrumentation-a conceptual framework that foregrounds the technical and the social nature of public policy instruments, as well as their unexpected effects-can bring the instrumental, political, and symbolic dimensions of quality assurance together. To support this claim, the article presents a comparative analysis of the Chilean and Colombian systems of quality assurance in higher education, two cases that might seem analogous at first glance due to their instrumental commonalities but reflect contrasting approaches to quality: a flexible and an excellence-oriented approach, respectively.