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Du management à la gouvernance ou la permanente réinvention de l’eau tiède (From management to governance the endless process of reinventing the wheel)


  • Rémy VOLPI

    () (labrii, ULCO)


Le management est l’art de diriger efficacement une organisation en vue d’atteindre les effets désirés avec le minimum de gaspillage. Outre la rationalisation, cela nécessite du charisme : un manager extrait de l’angoisse de son organisation et y instille de l’enthousiasme. Ainsi défini, et contrairement à une idée reçue, le management n’est pas né dans l’Amérique des années 1920. Il est probablement aussi ancien que les communautés humaines. Et en ce qui concerne l’économie moderne et le monde des affaires, il dérive en droite ligne de l’Italie médiévale. Mais paradoxalement, à l’instar de la mode, les théories du management surgissent et disparaissent comme des météorites. Certes, il en est qui ont contribué à construire et à renforcer la pratique du management. Mais beaucoup s’apparentent volontiers à l’invention de l’eau tiède, quand elles ne sont pas contreproductives. Par exemple, la gouvernance, ce dernier cri de la mode, n’est autre que l’actualisation de la ceinture de chasteté pour managers qui « résistent à tout sauf à la tentation ». C’est que du fait de la prégnance du court terme, l’éthique, ce troisième pilier du management, s’est graduellement estompé du champ de la conscience commune. L’éthique est nécessaire ne serait-ce que parce qu’une entreprise doit respecter ses clients afin qu’ils sortent durablement l’argent de leurs poches, et doit respecter ses employés afin qu’ils produisent de la valeur durablement : cela relève de l’intérêt bien compris de toute entreprise. De là il résulte que le développement durable, dont on dit qu’il correspond à un comportement managérial éthique, n’est autre que le retour de la perspective à long terme dans le management. Management is the art of efficiently leading an organization so as to reach the desired effects with minimum waste. Beyond rationalization, this demands some charisma: a manager extracts anxiety from the organization and instills enthusiasm into it. As such, and contrary to a generally accepted idea, management is not the brainchild of 1920’s America. It may be as old as human communities. And as far as modern economy and business are concerned, management directly stems from medieval Italy. But paradoxically, as with fashion, management theories rise and fall meteorically. For sure, some of these theories have contributed to the buildup of management practice. However, many of them look like the endless reinvention of the wheel if not of the square wheel. For instance, governance, the last fashionable craze, is but an updated chastity belt for managers supposed to “resist everything except temptation”. That is because, owing to the prevalent influence of short-termism, ethics, the third pillar of management, has just faded away from common wisdom awareness. Ethics is necessary if only because a business needs to respect its customers in order to get them to sustainably get their money out of their pockets, and needs to respect its employees in order to get them to sustainably create value: for any business, it is just a matter of vested interest. Hence, sustainable development, said to be an ethical managerial behaviour, is nothing more than the comeback of long-term perspectives in management.

Suggested Citation

  • Rémy VOLPI, 2010. "Du management à la gouvernance ou la permanente réinvention de l’eau tiède (From management to governance the endless process of reinventing the wheel)," Working Papers 224, Laboratoire de Recherche sur l'Industrie et l'Innovation. ULCO / Research Unit on Industry and Innovation.
  • Handle: RePEc:rii:riidoc:224

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Magnus Holmén & Staffan A Jacobsson, 1998. "Method for Identifying Actors in a Knowledge Based Cluster," DRUID Working Papers 98-26, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    2. M. Dewatripont & G. Roland, 1992. "Economic Reform and Dynamic Political Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 703-730.
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    More about this item


    sustainable development; management; governance;

    JEL classification:

    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development


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