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«375 V I S I O N S OF A M E R I C A N M A N A G E M E N T IN P O S T - W A R FRANCE LUC BOLTANSKI Historical studies of Franco-American relations in ...»

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However, while Emile Schreiber's vision of America - Taylorism and capitalistic industrial rationalization hardly corresponds to Georges Boris's or Pierre Mendbs-France's image of a pre-socialist America, the progressive democrats at least agreed on considering the New Deal not only an alternative to capitalism and Bolshevism, but above all an alternative to corporatism and fascism, which were defined by the same oppositions. The New Deal was an intermediary solution between old private capitalism and state-run socialism which, contrary to fascism, respected democracy. With the historical defeat of fascism (which had been presented as an "original" response to the 1930's economic crisis), the second "alternative" became the only ideology available with a solution to the crisis. An ideology and a substitute social technology were being sought, an association of planning, reformism and liberalism, such as the New Deal, or at least the New Deal as presented by the progressive fractions of the French bourgeoisie, rejecting the solutions to the class problem (particularly the problem of the middle classes) fascism had planned, and taking into account the reversal of the political situation following the fall of Vichy. That made it necessary to create or adopt a relatively new image of the political and social space, a "circular" political system in which the extreme right connects with the extreme left, and a social system based on a time vector, with on the one hand, the declining groups, that is, the traditionalist middle classes, and on the other hand, the rising future-oriented groups in which the salaried bourgeoisie (that is, the cadres) dominate. 29 This second "alternative" no longer required an authoritarian organization of class relations because it implied the progressive disappearance of class divisions while economic growth continued. Following the "discovery" of America, the ideological undertaking of defining the common denominator between cadres and bosses, the relevant feature capable of justifying the appeal to their union, was not only to be rejected, but reversed: the cadres became identified as the opposite of small employers, of the traditionalist, Malthusian, Poujadist, middle classes, that is, those destined to vanish; and along with the cadres were the new middle classes whom the cadres represented, the only group capable of conveying the fantasy of the "third choice," the "third party." The rise of the cadres meant the birth of a social order in which the opposition between the bosses and the proletariat was to be transcended both by the dissoluton of property (the "bosses" become salaried workers), which makes the basic Marxist criterion obsolete - the position in production relations - and by the expected disappearance of the opposition between manual and mental work through the progress of automation.

In corporatism, social order was viewed as a construction of solids: it now became analogous rather to a liquid state undergoing "currents," slightly different from a "flow," or a gas, a stochastic aggregate of independent molecules (high government officials, engineering school graduates, use and misuse - images borrowed from thermodynamics). Although certain strata or layers can still be distinguished within this "mass," they remain unstable and tend to fade and fuse. They all converge on a new focus, the new center of gravity around which society revolves: the middle class. But the term is no longer understood in the corporatist sense (heritage and family) but refers to the American middle class, the enormous aggregate of people working in the tertiary sector, having a comfortable, average standard of living, uniform values, integrated in large "organizations," individualistic, dominated by the spirit of competition and the pursuit of a successful career.

The transformation of the "traditional" middle class into an American-style middle class was to provide the most turbulent Western European countries (Germany and the Latin countries) with access to political stability.

In a well-known article reviewing the changes in European politics and the causes of the decline of ideologies, Seymour Martin Lipset sees these changes as converging towards the emergence of a "new middle class" consisting of technicians and cadres who stabilize the tensions between classes by rewarding moderate parties and penalizing extremist parties. They encourage the policy of collective bargaining; they favor increased productivity, which by allowing a juster distribution of consumer goods and education, reduces social tension and consequently discourages resortment to extremist ideologies. They acknowledge scientific thought, professionalism and expert authority in those fields which are at the root of political controversy; they thus constitute the most representative group of post-industrial or post-bourgeois society in which achievement overrides ascription and universalism rules over particularism, and whose ultimate form is the most technologically advanced society, the United States, respresenting the future of Western Europe. 3~ It was also in the 1950s that the term "new middle classes" became more widely used to designate those fractions of the salaried middle classes who worked in large companies, were technically competent and had a high level of education - that is, mainly, technicians and cadres as opposed to the artisans, shopkeepers and entrepreneurs, who comprised the "traditional" middle classes. 3~ L'Express: The Magazine for Cadres This new social image was not accepted immediately without any reactions or conflicts: most of the traditional right mobilized itself against it. In the 1950s, opposition to both communism and fascism was not just a figure of ideological rhetoric~,but the objective position of Mendbs's followers in that field of the political spectrum between the Communist Party and the P&aininspired or fascist right. The latter was represented by Maurice Gingembre and the Conf6d6ration G6n6rale des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises, or "CGPME," which, in association with the Conf6d6ration G6n6rale des Cadres, the CGC, supported Pinay and Laniel, 32 and as of 1954 by Pierre Poujade's Union de D6fense des Commergants et Artisans, the "UDCA."





Poujade, although in conflict with Gingembre, shared his main enemy, "Mend& and his clique," and also used the slogan "Mendbs in Jerusalem. ''33 The opposition between Pierre Mendbs-France and Antoine Pinay was highly symbolic for the fascist right-wingers: it was the reincarnation of an archetype (France, common sense and the Land versus the stateless Jews, intellectuals, and demogogues) a paradigmatic expression of which can be found in Mendbs ou Piney by Alfred Fabre-Luce (who published the book under the pseudonym of Sapiens). 34 The reactionary forces, among which CGC played an important part, as seen above, struggled indissociably for the survival of the traditional petit patronat (owners of small businesses), small farmers and shopkeepers, and to maintain the immediate interests of the cadres in the private sector (maintenance of the hierarchy in wages, lower taxes, and increased authority) and for continued colonial occupation of Indochina and North Africa.

Conversely, Servan-Schreiber repeatedly stated that the struggle for decolonization and for modernization of the economy were inseparably linked, the former being given priority only because it conditioned the latter. At the end of the Algerian war Servan-Schreiber changed L'Express from a political paper into an American-style news magazine: his response (as well as that of Fran~oise Giroud, 153-156) to criticism of this was that L'Express had not changed and that the 1964 weekly was in accord with the original project which had simply been postponed by the colonial wars ("such a waste of time," said Servan-Schreiber to Roger Priouret in 1968). As early as 1954, L'Express - which was later to claim itself the magazine for cadres demanded certain changes characteristic of the 1960s such as company concentration, industrial engineering, increased productivity, higher wages, increased consumption and development of training. L'Express was also to contribute to training a group of competent managers and cadres, and, in general, to vulgarization of economics.

Faith in the virtues of "economic information" was shared by management pioneers and the enlightened government officials of the Plan or the Ministry of Finance, who all believed that France's "economic lag" was mainly due to the policy on the part of employers of keeping business operations secret and to the ignorance of the cadres, whether salaried or independent: prejudice and a priori views were considered "obstacles to the harmonious development of the economy.... Modern democracy requires widespread knowledge of economics.... "Thus, for example, only "education of public opi nion" could "make income policy operative. "35 Rational management of the economy required informed - and therefore rational - producers and consumers, whose economic behavior was consistent with the laws of economics and who were at least willing to acknowledge the rationale of the decisions made in their names by experts. 36 The Schreiber family is again responsible for the emergence of the cadre-oriented press, whose growing influence in the mid 1960s contributed greatly to constituting, defining and diffusing the Schreiber image popularized in the 1960s. The history of the Schreiber family press summarizes the development of the economic press in France as a whole. In the first third of the century, Emile Schreiber founded Les Echos, originally aj ournal for announcements, which until the 1950s and 1960s constituted the stronghold of the Schreibers' growing political influence. In 1953, L'Express was published (in its first few months as a weekly supplement to Les Echos) and then in 1967, L'Expansion, directed by the youngest Servan-Schreiber brother, Jean-Louis. Les Echos, which had approximately 40,000 subscribers in the 1950s, was mainly geared to employers. In the post-war years, only financial and stock market journals existed, such as La Cote DesfossOs or La Vie Franqaise, a financial weekly founded in 1945 with a circulation of 150,000. On the whole, the financial press was tightly controlled by employers (a journalist claimed that a telephone call from the Centre National du Patronat Frangais, the CNPF, could have an article changed or deleted).

At the end of the 1950s, a new type of economic press appeared, consisting of monthly papers with circulations of often less than 25,000: Direction, L'Economie, Economie Conternporaine, La France Industrielle and, above all, Entreprise, which had the highest circulation (40,000)and whose editor-inchief, Michel Drancourt, was one of the popular spokemen of progressive employers and modern managers. 37Journals for cadres mainly developed in the mid-1960s with the creation by Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber of the bimonthly L'Expansion, whose editor-in-chief was Jean Boissonnat (a progressive Catholic having worked at Esprit). Founded on an American model (Fortune), L'Expansion, with a circulation of 150,000, was explicitly geared towards the cadres in general: it taught them how to manage their careers (in particular by publishing a yearly survey on wage scales or the "price" of cadres), provided information on large corporation operations and interviews with their managers, and served in general as a guide for "young" or "junior" cadres to make their way through the business world. It was also used (just as the new L'Express) as a sort ofsavoir-vivre manual: the portraits of the leaders, the advertising images, the career analyses and the interviews all supplied the newcomer with identification patterns and quality scales.

(This is quite comparable to the role of the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur among intellectuals). For L'Expansion, the policy was quite clear: the journal, said one of its editors, is for cadres "the mirror that reflects their image and cultivates their narcissism." Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber himself is now One of the most successful incarnations of the "American-style" French manager his elders ever dreamed of.

The Management Industry

However, the cadres press could not have had a homogenizing effect on values and life styles if it had not been preceded by the creation of institutions to reform the business bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie by instilling the values of the American middle-class stereotype. According to Michel Beaud, in order to understand how "concentration and heavy accumulation of capital to the benefit of monopolies" had occurred, "without any strong protest on the part of the classes and fractions of classes submitted to liquidation and submission, ''38 it is important to examine the institutional instruments for readaptation created mainly within the framework of the Marshall Plan or in relation to it. Their main function was to assist the purely economic undertaking of restructuring industry: mainly intended to organize cadres management, they also helped members of the traditional fractions of the petty bourgeoisie to reconvert. Increasingly, the latter were to define themselves as cadres, but although they may have claimed the title, they had neither the privileges nor the properties associated with it in the paradigmatic image.

The list of organisms, groups, seminars, and sessions, devoted to cadres and also to employers, created from approximately 1950 to 1965, is endless. The first such institutions seem to have been founded under the direct impulse of AFAP, which incited management consultants, trade unions, and professional associations to create or develop training programs for management, human relations, sales, and marketing. That was the case, for instance, of the Commission Nationale d'Organization Fran~aise, or CNOP, which developed the Ecole d'Organization Scientifique du Travail, the EOST and set up various training programs for cadres, 39 as well as for the Paris Chamber of Commerce which founded the Centre de Prbparation aux Affaires, th e CPA.



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