“The managerial transversalization of the state. Varieties of management structures within the french public administration (1980-2014)”, Philippe Bezes and Scott Vialett-Thévenin (Sciences Po CEE, France)

This article highlights the benefits of pluralizing, historicizing and anchoring in the trajectories of ministries over time, the study of the rise and institutionalization of management activities within the state. It draws upon a database measuring the historical evolution of administrative structures inside central administrations in France since 1980 and uses a set of original indicators. By proposing a typology of the managerial activities that have fed into a process of “transversalization”, and by studying in depth the organizations that have promoted them, the article confirms the existence of a neo-managerial turn, characterized by significant growth of control and steering activities, associated with New Public Management. But it also highlights the relatively moderate extent of this in the French case, as well as the strong, long-standing and structuring presence of more traditional management activities (human resources, logistics, information technology, legal affairs, etc.). By comparing five ministerial departments (Defense, Foreign Affairs, Education, Economy and Finance, Ecology, and Public Works), it identifies different ministerial trajectories of managerialization. The variety of managerial activities at work invites us to think about the complexity of the managerial webs within which ministries and the state itself are caught. 

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