|dc.description.abstracten||One of the most notable effects of the New Public Management (NPM) reforms wave, in the last decades, is the massive introduction, within public organizations, of discourses, methods and managerial tools coming from the private sector. According to reformers, this so-called ―modernization‖ aims to break up with the supposed rigidity, inhumanity and inefficiency inherent to the traditional bureaucratic structures of an overweighed welfare State (Du Gay 2000). As a consequence, one can observe the continuous development of complex and hybrid organizational forms (Christensen et Lægreid 2001; Kickert 2001). These ―hybrids‖ are characterized by the emphasis put on performance measurement and goals settings (Bouckaert et Peters 2002; Radin 2006), the implementation of post-bureaucratic organizations (Goldsmith et Kettl 2009) or the marketization of public services (Hansen 2010). By combining traditional bureaucratic forms of domination with elements of managerialism, these structures produce enforced forms of control and blur traditional sources of legitimacy (Courpasson et Clegg 2006). It can so be said that the understanding of these composite organizations‘ politics, becomes a major stake to throw light on the evolution of public administration at the age of the NPM and post-NPM reforms.
The General Directorate for State Modernization as an organizational hybrid
In this paper, I would like, using the concept of organizational hybridization, to investigate a very particular public structure, the General Directorate for State Modernization (DGME). Created in 2005, and heavily restructured in 2007, the DGME is quite unique in the French administrative landscape. Linked to the Ministry of Budget, but conceived as a transverse structure, it aims to be both the catalyst of State transformation and the meting pot of a new administrative culture. The former goal requires the capacity to convince or to constraint civil servants to implement modernization reforms, the latter implies to ―engineer‖ (Kunda 2006) an attractive and compatible form of culture, able to infuse within administration.
To entail the transformation process, the DGME takes advantage of its major role in the monitoring and the implementation of the ongoing General Revision of Public Policies (RGPP), a wide range of reforms inspired by NPM, as a key to implement new managerial tools, such as lean management, strategic planning or customer-oriented solutions. The highly political dimension of the RGPP combined to an ad-hoc rather coercive decision process provide a ―soft constraint‖ (Courpasson 2006) framework used by the DGME managers as a tool to provoke reform.
Concerning the DGME‘s cultural project, the recruiting policy is emblematic and radically differs from the traditional French ―meritocratic‖ way. More than 60% of the 130 people who work
there do not come from the grandes écoles, like the National School of Administration (ENA) or the grands corps but from leading consulting firms and are hired as contractors for 3 years. The mix of these contractors with high-level civil servants is supposed to provoke a reciprocal acculturation and to produce the archetypal new public manager.
But it is also important to remember that, in spite of this disruptive project, the DGME remains a classical bureaucracy, bounded by the generic administrative rules, in terms of HR processes, remuneration or interministerial interactions. In other words, the DGME is a hybrid whose mission consists in hybridizing the French administration, but, in the same time, an administration like any other else. Understanding the consequences of this contradiction is critical to analyse the difficulties encountered by the transformation processes, both within the DGME and towards other administrations.
Methodology and perspectives
To carry on this work, I will draw on the data collected during a 18 months ethnographic fieldwork, as a participant observer in the DGME. Hired as a project manager, I could follow the elaboration of several reforms, and negotiate directly with interlocutors from other ministries. I also had the opportunities to participate to the DGME‘s everyday life, and to follow the internal discussions and methodological changes implemented since 2009. This method allows to go through the wall of discourses and afterwards reconstructions and to directly study practices and human and institutional interactions. The qualitative material will be completed by available quantitative data, in particular, a non-published survey lead by the DGME among the 3 000 administrative top managers. Thanks to this rich information I will investigate three topics and will try:
- To describe more precisely the DGME as an organizational hybrid. It implies to analyse the internal politics of the structure, the tensions between different populations and the control system elaborated to regulate such an instable organization.
- To throw light on the system of institutional and political constraint engineered by the DGME to oblige civil servants to take an active part in the reforms. It implies to analyse the blurring in the traditional administrative leadership and legitimacy model (Selznick 1957).
- To study the resistances opposed to transformation process by civil servants. I do not speak about strikes or any form of collective action, but more of a daily, obstinate and actually productive micro-resistance, which contributes to slow down the reform, and to transform it. I argue that these resistances contribute to the hybridization process and shape the culture, the process, the practices of the DGME as much as internal interactions.
Actually, my hypothesis is that the ongoing movement I propose to study is a ―double-bind‖, or reciprocal hybridization process. To put it in other words, I will have to understand and describe a three stages phenomenon. First, occurs an ―in-house‖ hybridization, between the different populations that are working together in the Directorate. Second, the interactions between this original structure and more traditional bureaucracies, lead to the diffusion of tools, methods and practices, and shape the former professional identities and cultures, sometimes creating resistances. Finally, the DGME take these resistances in account and reforms its own structure to defeat them, often by bringing back in traditional decision processes.
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