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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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During the same period, the Lille Chamber of Commerce created the Centre d'Etudes des Problbmes Industriels. The Centre de Formation et de Perfectionnement in association with the Association Nationale des Chefs du Personnel created a system of study groups in plants, a French adaptation of the American "Training Within Industry" (TWI) method. It also organized "dinner-debates" and invited public figures involved in labor relations (such as Hyacinthe Dubreuil and Andr6 Siegfried). The Centre Frangais du patronat Chrbtien, CFPC, founded a school called "Ecole des chefs d'entreprise et desCadres Sup6rieurs," and as early as 1950 the Centre des Jeunes Patrons organized three-day full-time sessions on industrial management problems.

Until the late 1960s when large American offices settled in France, CEGOS was the largest French management council and had an especially active training policy. Finally, in 1954, C N P F created the Centre de Recherche et d'Etudes des Chefs d'Entreprise which organized ten yearly sessions to teach modern management methods to managers and executives (approximately 2,500 sessions from 1955 to 1963). 4o In 1960, there were 150 organisms in France specialized in cadre training, twenty five of which offered a "general refresher course on management methods. ''41 It was not until later that management schools proper, designed for students and not working cadres, were developed, business administration and management courses introduced in universities and the social sciences and human relations taught in professional schools. In 1953 the Catholic Faculty of Lille created pioneer courses on human relations in its Institute of Economic Research. This initiative was followed by the creation of the Institut des Sciences Sociales du Travail, ISST, in 1954 by the Ministry of Labor, later to become part of the University of Paris (ISST alumni mainly found jobs in personnel management and company social services, in particular as advisers for comitks d'entreprise42; then the Instituts d'Administration des Affaires, founded in 1955 in the Faculties of Law and Economics, created a degree in business administration.

But university management training did not really develop until the late 1960s in the faculties of law and economics (even later in the professional engineering schools, partially thanks to Bertrand Schwartz, head of the Ecole des Mines of Nancy)Y In 1968 the Fondation Nationale pour l'Enseignement de la Gestion des Entreprises, FNEGE, created by CNPF, the association of Chambers of Commerce and the Ministry of Industry, began to coordinate business administration training, which had been dispersed among a wide variety of schools: faculties, Instituts Universitaires de Technologie, known as IUTs, professional trade schools (such as Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales and Ecole Sup6rieure de Commerce) and the Eeoles Sup6rieures de Commerce et d'Administration des Entreprises, ESCAE, which since the mid-1960s had assembled eighteen average-sized schools of commerce (one per educational district). Moreover, from 1950 to 1970 a great number of private schools specializing in management training were founded: out of the thirty private management schools in the Paris area in 1972, twenty five had not been founded before 1950 (nine in the 1950s and sixteen in the 1960s). 44 The creation of the first management schools was supporte d by the European Productivity Agency which in 1956 started organizing year-long training courses in American universities for future professors of management (with approximately 225 participants from 1956 to 1958), as well as summer courses open to practicing professors who wished to study the "contents of and teaching methods used for American manager training." In addition, the Ford Foundation provided French Business Administration schools with American professors.

Another characteristic of the 1950s was rapid development of management councils in charge of reforming already existing agencies, which accompanies and often precedes establishment of a management teaching system.

These management councils and organization and methods did not appear in France through the productivity missions. Taylor found his first followers during the period preceding World War I and his ideas spread during the war, particularly in the arms industry under the pressure of reformists, while the beginnings of economic planning were being set u p. 45 However, the number and size of the councils remained modest until productivity efforts opened a new market for them. The management consultants themselves, inspired as much by local tradition as by Taylo(ism, 46 appeared just before World War II.

On the initiative of the grandpatronat (large corporation heads), the Commission d'Etudes G6n6rales des Organisations, CEGOS, was founded, and presided by Auguste Detoeuf (but was not very active until 1945), as well as the Comit6 National de l'Organisation Fran~aise, CNOF, and the Bureau des Temps E16mentaires, BTE, directed by Bedeau, who applied timing techniques rigorously and schematically. But BICRA, founded by Jean Coutrot in the late 1930s, was probably the closest to modern councils. Set up in collaboration with two management specialists, a Dutchman, Hernst Hysman, and a German, Heinz Oppenheimer, BICRA's most original principle was to develop new labor management techniques inspired by the social sciences, along with the"rationalization techniques" already used by Bedeau or Paul Planus. Coutrot was probably the first French businessman to perceive the possible use of psychology and sociology in business, and was

passionately interested in the fields. His friend G6rard Bardet was to follow:

inspired by corporatism (in 1936 he instituted, in the plant he managed, "shop delegates" and "corporative commissions," each including a manager, shop steward, foreman and delegate); after the death of Coutrot in 1942, he created his own council, COFROR, with two ex-BICRA consultants.

Jean Coutrot thus organized a meeting in 1934 at Paul Desjardins's home in the Pontigny Abbey to "expand the concrete knowledge we already have of the universe to human problems, both individual and social." He called for specialists in the social and natural sciences to gather: biologists, physiologists, doctors, philosophers, sociologists, businessmen and political economists. This was the spirit in which he created the Centre d'Etude des Problbmes Humains, CEPH, in association with the writer Aldous Huxley, the archeologist Robert Francillon and the economist George Guillaume. Hyacinthe Dubreuil, Jean Ullmo, Alfred Sauvy, Teilhard de Chardin (a close friend of Coutrot's), Tchakotine, and others, participated in the CEPH meetings, which included eight commissions: economic humanism, applied psychology, rational and humane limitation of inequality, propaganda, industrial decentralization, psychobiology, history and analysis of Marxism.

The commission reports were published in the Center's journal, Humanisme Economique. Jean Coutrot was one of the masters of management training in the 1950s, who taught new management techniques and social psychology of American origin - the oldest of whom had often participated in BICRA.


They were thus prepared to follow the road from corporatism to humanrelations. 47

In the 1950s, AFAP supported such organisms created between the wars and still active (such as the Bedeau council), but with some reticence. The councils were criticized for having ignored the "human factor" and, in the 1950s, "American-style productivity" often implied criticizing French management councils. The new generation of engineering consultants which emerged in the 1950s, mainly around a central group of Ecole Centrale (engineering school) graduates from CEGOS who had worked in BICRA, such as Noel Pouderoux or Gilbert Bloch, broke o f f - or at least claimed to from the "authoritarian" and "rigid" instrumentalism which had until then dominated the councils: management was no longer conceived in a strictly technical, flatly Taylorist view, and rationalization of the material process of production, the breakdown and restructuring of manual tasks, was no longer considered sufficient to increase productivity or turnover. The two main trends dominating management science had to fuse: the technical tradition centered on mechanical organization of the work process and the human relations and group dynamics movement. Open to psychology, even psychiatry and sociology, the new managers wanted to take into account the human factor and analyse the motivations buried deep inside managers, at the very heart of the spirit of capitalism glorified by Octava G61inier, director of CEGOS in the 1960s, another Ecole Centrale alumnus trained by Pouderoux who for twenty years was to be one of the main importers of American management techniques.

But above all, and this is the fundamental difference from the pre-war period, management councils no longer geared their work only or even in priority to rationalization of manual labor or the concrete disposition of workshops. A large part of their activity became devoted to the new tasks of screening, socializing and training the management, sales, technical and administrative staffs. This change in purpose was decisive in the change of methods: the technical focus and authoritarian rationalism applied until then by the Ecole Centrale graduate engineers to worker management could not be used as such for reforming engineers, and even less so for the self-taught managers who showed little tolerance for brutal forms of authority, and who, themselves having positions of relative power, had to be spared.

The "authority crisis" theme recurs frequently in manager consultant writings in the late 1950s. On the one hand, the myth of the chef(supervisor), as honored by the Catholic engineers at the height of the Vichy period, had to be destroyed, and on the other hand, hierarchical relations had to be founded on new principles of legitimacy. "Problems of authority are now being raised in quite a new way in all fields. In the family as well as in education, industry or politics, an authority crisis has appeared," said the report on the 1958 CEGOS seminar on "cadres and the exercise of authority." "What is it that justifies a man's authority, that is, the fact that~he has a certain power over others? How can his position as superior be acknowledged, attributed and valorized? Are the traditional justifications of authority still valid t o d a y... ?

In a period of transition, such as nowadays, there is a certain gap between the development of material techniques and the deveIopment of the social sciences. Human problems, particularly in a country with very old structures, are often tackled with outdated methods. Thus we are still haunted by the 'myth of the supervisor'. First, it should be acknowledged that there is no absolute distinction between supervisors and people who are not supervisors.

It is impossible to speak of 'supervisors' in themselves, of supervisors isolated from the entire network of human relations which makes them supervisors."48 Nothing could justify the appearance of new control methods better than this report, written during the "transition period" in which the industrial concentration following the opening of the Common Market had begun. The myth of the supervisor corresponds quite well to the experience of engineers and even junior executives during the 1930s and again in the immediate post-war period, in which the division of authority among the so-called collaborateurs (that is, the "associates" of the employer) was connected to the concrete division of production units rather than to specialization of tasks. "Engineers" did had production technique activities and even carried out research and supervised equipment maintenance and manual labor, in addition to performing so-called social activities, which in many cases were not covered by independent personnel management. This division of labor and the absence of instruments of representation available to cadres to define themselves as a specific group, contributed, along with other factors (such as their training in engineering schools and in particular at the Ecole Centrale) to mold the social identity of employees in positions of relative authority in companies: they borrowed identification patterns from the model of the military officer conscious of his "social role" (especially if they were Catholic, came from bourgeois families, were engineering school graduates, or were interested in the armed forces or public service), as well as from the role of the "individual boss," the rigorous, absolute master of isolated units, responsible for both quality products and lowered production costs.

Such images were no longer adapted to the new change in business which had accelerated in the early 1960s. Instead of the old pattern, the one-dimensional, univocal hierarchical relationship, a new pattern had to be substituted, that of the network of human relations, miraculously adjusted to the structural properties now a part of industry, with its intermingling financial ties and its complex domination structures through which the power of groups with unclear limits was exercised. The invention of a new way of controlling the new petty business bourgeoisie thus seems very closely related to the intensified bureaucratization of industry and the progressive integration of small units into group structures.

The value the managerial avant-garde attached to the new social technology

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