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The managerial rationality, from domestic administration to governance

Presentation of my PhD research, 6 p.

Thèmes liés : Management - Gouvernance


In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the notion of “management” takes a first meaning within a coherent set of concepts - care, industry, arrangement, conduct and calculation - which articulation draws a new way of thinking. At the beginning of the twentieth century, while the business corporation slowly emancipates from the family sphere, this rationality is redefined on the basis of four main general principles : efficiency, organization, control, and knowledge. This second managerial rationality shows, throughout the twentieth century, a unity and a stability that are of a nature neither scientific nor ideological. This rationality cannot be understood by the yardstick of the military discipline, of the patriarchal authority, of the instrumental rationality proper to the engineers, or of the capitalist rationality proper to the economists, for the very reason that it is formulated largely in reaction to these four rationalities. Precisely, the second managerial rationality constitutes a new understanding of the way of governing individuals, which we call a “governmentality”, in way slightly different from Foucault. This managerial governementality cannot be fitted into a unique organisational frame, but circulates between different institutions, the most prominent of which being the family, the business corporation and the state. The study of this new governmentality is the occasion to question the main views of government prevailing on both sides of the Atlantic for a century and a half, and thus to contributes to clarifying the contemporary ways of thinking about power.
Key-words : history, management, rationality, governmentality, institution

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LE TEXIER - The Managerial Rationality (07.2011)