Sunday, November 20, 2011

France's Problem Is Management, Not Workers

The Economist says that the problem with French firms is the way they are managed, not the attitude of workers (h/t Arun Kapil):

As Thomas Philippon, a French economist, pointed out in “Le Capitalisme d’Héritiers”, a 2007 book, too many big French companies rely on educational and governmental elites rather than promoting internally according to performance on the job. In the country’s many family firms, too, opportunity for promotion is limited for non-family members. This overall lack of upward mobility, argues Mr Philippon, contributes largely to ordinary French cadres’ dissatisfaction with corporate life. A study of seven leading economies by TNS Sofres in 2007 showed that France is unique in that middle management as well as the lower-level workforce is largely disengaged from their companies.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Upper management replicates the pecking order of the Grandes Ecoles with HEC & X sitting on top, with Centrale, ESSEC, Mines & Ponts getting second dibs with all the rest of the business & engineering grandes écoles having to settle for the lower rungs.
Middle management is peopled by university graduates. Their spots & functions are disappearing like in the US.
The shopfloor blue-collar jobs, also disappearing go to IUT alumni, BTS holders and lycee professionel graduates.
For sure, there are exceptions but the model described above corresponds to the "imaginaire populaire" and to the imaginaire of profs in classes prépa who are the linchpins in inculcating this cercle vicieux.

In France, your destiny is settled at the very latest by the age 18.

The closed world of French management is, currently, too small and actually too parochial in its mindset to be considered to be world-class.

Cartesian said...

Excerpt: "La France doit limiter les dépenses de l'Etat, améliorer les perspectives en matière d'éducation, notamment pour sa population d'origine immigrée et mieux utiliser sa force de travail très qualifiée", lit-on encore dans le rapport.

See this article:

FrédéricLN said...

"France is unique in that middle management as well as the lower-level workforce is largely disengaged from their companies."

My opinion is that France is unique in that middle management as well as the lower-level workforce strongly commit themselves in their work. It is "la logique de l'honneur" - say: a worker's honor is to save his company how dark the circumstances - as described by Philippe d'Iribarne.

French workers consider themselves as co-owners and co-responsible for the future of their companies. Or "considered themselves" so. And the global companies shareholders make them feel that — no, you are just a costly weight, we are the decision-makers, and we know how to make money — by speculation, corruption, fraud, political influence, and all those means that work.

AND that, for this very reason, French middle managers as well as the lower-level workforce are deeply upset, discouraged and bitter when they see the companies (or their components in France) being cheated, dismantled, and despised by the top management and the shareholders.

A symbol for that: French workers are pissed off (or a word alike) when the discover the 30-years-old "transition managers" sent by the CEO as head of their factory just for the time of closing them down — and the law says the workers and their trade unions should negotiate with these powerless "managers".