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The Researcher’s View : Research news (winter 2019)

 

Article reviews

Budget and performance

Tourism performance and management of the French territory: the impact of the NOTRe territorial reform

Aurélie Corne
Assistant Professor, Centre for Research into Societies and Environments in the Mediterranean and Beyond (CRESEM), University of Perpignan, France

 

 

Subject
This articles explores tourism performance and competitiveness in France, examining the paradox by which the country ranks first worldwide by foreign tourist arrivals yet only fifth by tourism revenue. The author looks at the impact on the tourism sector of the Local Administration Reform Act (or NOTRe), which cut the number of French regions from 22 to 13 when it entered into force in January 2016.

Data
The article employs a systems approach that treats tourist destinations as companies, and sets out a theoretical framework in which the restructuring of regions is likened to a process of business mergers and acquisitions. The author first uses the data envelopment analysis (DEA) method to obtain efficiency scores for each French region before seeking to determine whether the mergers are efficient or not from a tourist point of view and to identify potential performance gains.

Findings
The analysis shows that, with the exception of the Île-de-France region, the most efficient French regions are not necessarily those that attract the most visitors. The author’s findings indicate that, in the short term, the Local Administration Reform Act should not have an impact on the tourism performance of France’s regions. On the contrary, the mergers generate potential performance gains through the imitation of best practices.

This article was published in Gestion et management public, 2018/1 (Vol. 6, No. 3), pp. 35-50, and is available online at: https://www.cairn.info/revue-gestion-et-management-public-2018-1-page-35...

 

The effect of stakeholder inclusion on public sector project innovation

Sebastian Godenhjelm
University Lecturer, Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki, Finland

Jan-Erik Johanson
Professor of Administrative Science, School of Management, University of Tampere, Finland

 

Subject
Les partenariats et le partage des idées entre des organisations ou des acteurs hétérogènes sont souvent avancés comme des solutions permettant de remédier au déficit d’innovation supposé dans le secteur public. Pourtant l’étude de collaborations interorganisationnelles et de stratégies destinées à intégrer plusieurs parties prenantes dans des projets communs n’a montré aucun résultat probant permettant de montrer un lien entre la gouvernance collaborative et l’innovation.

Data
This article examines 275 European Union-funded projects to identify relevant project partners and determine what actions are necessary to encourage innovation, looking in particular at how stakeholders influence innovative practice in these projects. The authors critically reflect on the debate around interactive governance and the process of public service delivery, aiming to draw conclusions about the extent to which stakeholder collaboration is a prerequisite for innovation and the procedures and actions that serve that purpose.

Findings
The authors find that funding bodies cannot always identify which potential partners are most likely to promote innovation. They also observe that, in many cases, project initiators choose to bring stakeholders on board not in a quest for innovation but instead, as they see it, in order to guarantee the project’s legitimacy. The authors highlight the benefits of stakeholder inclusion for innovation in public-sector projects, while stressing the key role that so-called “translational” bodies play in enabling all institutions to formulate their own objectives using the project’s shared vocabulary.

This article was published in International Review of Administrative Sciences, 2018/1 (Vol. 84), pp. 47-67, and is available online at: https://www.cairn.info/revue-internationale-des-sciences-administratives...   

 

Governance

“Platform-state”: towards a new rationality of public choices?

Marie-Pierre Philippe-Dussine
Assistant Professor of Economics, Visiting Researcher at the European Centre for Research in Financial Economics and Business Management (CEREFIGE), Université de Lorraine, France

 

 

Subject
At a time of rising criticism about attempts via the new public management approach to introduce private-sector management practices into the public sector, a new post-bureaucratic model appears to be taking shape in the form of the so-called “Platform State”. That model sees e-government as part of a growing movement towards giving more space to the individual, instituting new information flows and new forms of co-production in public policy-making.

Data
This article examines the Public Action 2022 programme – a sweeping review of the principles of rationality that drive every area of French government business. The author questions the extent to which this reform of the state can contribute to genuine institutional change marked by the search for increased rationality, borrowing from the New Institutional Economics framework to analyse the challenges, objectives and inherent constraints of such a venture.

Findings
The author argues that the “Platform-State” model sets up a conflict between two competing objectives: the need for control (which applies to all organisations), and the desire to allow greater freedom of action so as to unleash innovation. She also observes that the so-called “crowd” on which the model rests is no guarantor of rationalisation, and that a more flexible structure can create areas of uncertainty and lead to a situation in which the organisational benefits accrue to some, but not all, stakeholders. The author further finds that the use of new information and communication technologies can prompt the pursuit of hyper-rationality by bringing about new forms of control that benefit new centres of power. She suggests that the digital revolution – of which the “Platform State” forms a part – requires a new type of “contract” so as to avoid the pitfalls that jeopardise rationalisation efforts. The author concludes by observing that organisational innovation is not the sole preserve of central government, and that the issue must also be “addressed at the local level, where other cultures and rationalities come into play”.

This article was published in Revue internationale de psychosociologie et de gestion des comportements organisationnels, 2018/58 (Vol. XXIV), pp. 139-154, and is available online at: https://www.cairn.info/revue-internationale-de-psychosociologie-de-gestion-de s-comportements- organisationnels-2018-58-page-139.htm

Between public service value and ethical tool: which place for transparency in the “right” behavior of public sector officials in France (1970-2016)?

Thomas Scapin
PhD student in political science, Université Lumière Lyon 2, France

 

 

Subject
In France, transparency as a principle in public administration dates back to 1789 and Article 15 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which states that “[s]ociety has the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration”. Yet the idea of transparency as a fundamental principle of public service only began to take off in earnest in the 1970s, as France passed a series of laws designed to improve the government-citizen relationship. This article draws on public reports on government reform, as well as archive documents and stakeholder interviews, analysing the role of transparency as a recognised public-service value since the 1970s and placing into context Act 2016-483 of 20 April 2016 on the ethics, rights and obligations of civil servants.

Data
The article examines the tensions between France’s long-standing public administration model and new public management reforms since the 1980s that establish transparency as a fundamental value of public service. The author observes that, as the movement has gained traction since the 1990s, there has been a growing body of legally non-binding soft law (charters and codes of conduct), while it has proven challenging to bring in new transparency tools and mechanisms to guard against ethical and conflict-of-interest risks such as the so-called “revolving door”.

Findings
The author examines the Act of 26 April 2016 in light of this trend, observing how it marks a symbolic break with past practice whereby transparency was the ideological foundation on which new public management reforms were built. The act strengthens existing institutions such as the Conseil d’Etat and the Civil Service Ethics Commission as guardians of the long-standing principles of good administrative practices.

This article was published in Revue française d’administration publique, 2018/1 (No. 165), pp. 63-77, and is available online at: https://www.cairn.info/revue-francaise-d-administration-publique-2018-1-...

 

Government-citizen relationship

Indicators to explore the effects of participatory settings: the case of the Gard "département"

Hélène Rey-Valette, Assistant Professor in Economics, Centre for Environmental Economics – Montpellier (CEE-M), University of Montpellier, France

Jean-Eudes Beuret, Agricultural Economist and Professor, Agrocampus Ouest, Rennes, France

Audrey Richard-Ferroudji, PhD in Sociology and Independent Consultant in Environmental Sociology and Governance

Subject
Participatory settings have become increasingly commonplace in the public sector since the 1990s. These processes occur at different points in the policy-making process and pursue a range of different objectives, from securing citizen buy-in, to resolving conflict or strengthening democracy.

Data
Les auteurs cherchent d’une part à cerner les effets de ces dispositifs de concertation et d’autre part interrogent les méthodes d’évaluation des effets de ces démarches participatives afin d’identifier les facteurs et leviers capables d’amplifier leur impact et leur portée. Ils développent pour ce faire un système d’indicateurs multicritères qu’ils testent sur une vingtaine de dispositifs participatifs mis en oeuvre par le département du Gard.

Findings
The authors find that low levels of participation lead to equally low levels of impact, and that outcomes vary according to how these settings are implemented. They further observe that participatory settings promote a greater understanding of needs, create space for dialogue, and help to identify beneficial operational effects for the organisation itself, as well as for citizens and elected officials. The authors split these effects into two categories: those by which participatory settings are “used” as a way to improve decision-making, and those that have more to do with strengthening the functioning of democracy.

This article was published in Revue d’Économie Régionale & Urbaine – 2018/1 (January), pp. 37-56, and is available online at: : https://www.cairn.info/revue-d-economie-regionale-et-urbaine-2018-1-page-5.htm?contenu=article

Conditions for putting service users to work: the case of waste management

Kevin Caillaud
Associate Professor of Sociology, Political Science and Planning, Visiting Researcher at the Laboratory of Technology, Territories and Societies (LATTS), Université Paris-Est-Marne-la-Vallée, France

 

 

Subject
New public management has brought about major changes in public services since the 1990s . Service delivery has become both commodified and individualised, driven by new instruments designed to increase user participation and, in theory, better serve their interests. That trend has seen users take over some of the tasks previously performed by public officials, thereby reshaping their respective roles and responsibilities.

Data
In this article, the authors examine how an incentive fee system for household waste management in the Grand-Besançon metropolitan area characterises this transformation. The new system, under which collection services are charged in part according to how much waste users produce, is the culmination of a green waste management policy introduced more than 20 years ago. As well as targeting households with environmental messages, the scheme relies on rational-choice theory. The idea is that, when faced with a purely financial decision, users are likely to act in a way that saves them money – in this case, by better managing their household waste.

Findings
The authors nevertheless find that monetary considerations play only a small part in users’ decisions to act more productively, and that their choices are more heavily influenced by tighter monitoring and moral pressure from the authority’s waste management department. That, in turn, leads to a new performance and surveillance culture that reshapes the very meaning of the concept of public service.

This article was published in Gouvernement et action publique, 2018/3 (No. 3), pp. 57-81, and is available online at: https://www.cairn.info/revue-gouvernement-et-action-publique-2018-3-page-57.htm

 

EPublic sector employment

From the sharing economy to the “uberisation” of work: digital platforms as human resource management tools

Sophia Galiere
PhD student in management science, Université de Nantes, France

 

 

Subject
Although the sharing economy first raised hopes of alternative ways of working, digital peer-to-peer work platforms are now at the centre of controversies that we can sum up by the neologism “uberisation”. The phenomenon has grown rapidly in recent years as smartphones and apps have become facts of life. More than 65% of online platforms in Europe today were set up in 2010 or later.

Data
The author questions the myth that these platforms have built around themselves as mere market intermediaries or radical technical innovations, which claim to challenge the management forms of conventional corporations and allow users to work according to their own wishes. She deconstructs this myth by analysing a dozen or so peer-to-peer work platforms, developing a typology of the various forms of human resource management that they mobilise.

Findings
The author distinguishes between “operator” platforms such as Uber and Deliveroo and “marketplaces” like Superprof, as well as characterising platforms according to whether they are more prescriptive or incentive-based. She finds that these platforms offer nothing in the way of radical innovation and that, to a greater or lesser extent, they operate according to the same principles as conventional businesses. The author further observes that such platforms are not “neutral”, but rather designed with the intent of managing workers without the obligations that come with an employer-employee relationship. She concludes by calling for research into cooperative platforms, which could be conceived as alternatives to so-called “platform capitalism”.

This article was published in @GRH, 2018/3 (No. 27), pp. 37-56, and is available online at: https://www.cairn.info/revue-%40grh-2018-2-page-37.htm

The blurring lines between employees and self-employed workers in France

Brigitte Pereira
Professor of Law and Corporate Social Responsibility, EM Normandie Business School, France

 

 

Subject
Working arrangements have changed so profoundly in the past 20 years that the Fordist model of rigidly segmented labour and strict reporting lines no longer seems to apply. That transformation is particularly apparent in the changing face of both employment (most workers in France still fall into this category) and self-employment (a status that more workers are embracing). Ongoing reforms to employment law, and the ordinances of September 2017 in partcular, have brought about more flexible working arrangements for employees. In some circumstances, meanwhile, self-employed workers are treated more like traditional employees, with a single “client” instructing them how, when and where they should work.

Data
This article explores the scale of these changes, looking in particular at relationships between employers and employees, and between clients and self-employed workers, to identify situations where those relationships are based on subordination, dependence or power dynamics. The author reviews legislation and court records from the past two decades to examine how reporting relationships and contracts of employment have changed in law, and how judgements from the French Supreme Court of Appeal and elsewhere have treated those relationships in practice.

Findings
The author observes a shift towards greater autonomy and empowerment for employees, not least as changes to working-time arrangements (telecommuting, fixed number of working days per year) have weakened the reporting relationship between employer and employee, while at the same time forcing employees to shoulder more of the “business risk”. Conversely, she finds that a genuine reporting relationship has emerged between self-employed workers and their clients. The institutional dimension of the law, which aims to “give businesses more power to pursue their competitive aims”, is further accentuating these changes. The author concludes, on that basis, that reporting lines – and the associated concepts of authority and subordination – are no longer a useful metric for characterising the nature of these managerial relationships, suggesting instead that they be viewed through the broader prism of power.

The article was published in Management & Avenir, 2018/6 (No. 104), pp. 37-56, and is available online at: https://www.cairn.info/revue-%40grh-2018-2-page-37.htm

Thesis reviews

Corporate social responsibility: normative dynamics and competitive stakes. An illustration of a moving law

Thesis by Orianne Thibout, Research Group on Law, Economics and Management (GREDEG), Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, France; supervised by Patrice Reis, Lecturer, Université Côte d’Azur, France. Thesis defence date: 26 November 2018.


 

Now being an unavoidable concept for companies in managing their, often correlated, legal and reputation risks attached to their economic activities as well as in defining their commercial and competitive strategies, corporate social responsibility (CSR) actively participates in abolishing boundaries, already permeable, between public normativity and private normativity.

This thesis examines how CSR has been incorporated into contemporary law. The author underscores its hybrid normative character and examines its role in a normative framework that stems from both public authorities and the private sector. She raises questions about the flexibility of the law in a rapidly changing world where rules – from different sources and with different scopes – “evolve and perish over time”.

The author observes that, in a globalised competitive context, CSR underlines the necessary adaptation of classical legal instruments to the evolution of complex normative systems at a global scale. She further posits that CSR is subject to a constantly renewed competitive dialogue between national and international public authorities and private operators and that, therefore, economic law is neither frozen in time nor locked inside national borders space.

The thesis can be viewed online at: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-01963709

Three essays on public sector debt accounting

Thesis by Marion Sierra Torre, Dauphine Recherches en Management (DRM), Université Paris-Dauphine, France; supervised by Edith Ginglinger, Professor of Finance, Université Paris-Dauphine, France. Thesis defence date: 17 January 2018.


 

 

This thesis deals with the accounting of public debt from three distinct and complementary analytical perspectives.

First, the author studies the accounting standards for retirement obligations, developing a theoretical evaluation grid using a comparative and diachronic analysis based on the review of existing practices. Her analysis highlights that the existing pension schemes in Europe are incompatible with the individual savings model as promoted by the IPSAS 25 standard.

Second, the author analyses the relationship between debt accounting and the political environment, and tests the hypothesis of an underestimation of debt levels around elections. The results allow her to validate her hypothesis and indicate that developing countries are most affected by this underestimation.

Third, the author examines the impact of the solicitation status of a sovereign rating on the rating itself and on the public debt level assigned by rating agencies. Focusing on Moody’s, Fitch and S&P, her findings indicate that agencies favour countries soliciting their rating compared with those who do not solicit them.

The thesis can be viewed online at: http://www.theses.fr/2018PSLED002

The marketing function within artistic and cultural organisations: nature and degree of its effective integration

Thesis by Élodie Chabroux, Research Institute on the Management of Organisations (IRGO), University of Bordeaux, France; supervised by Jean-François Trinquecoste, Lecturer, IAE Bordeaux, France. Thesis defence date: 28 September 2018.


 

This work examines the nature and effects of integrating marketing logic into arts and culture organisations. The research aims to update and extend the knowledge acquired about the “conflict” between artists and managers exposed by Chiapello (1998) while orienting it towards the conflict between artists and marketers.

This work is based on the case method. A qualitative exploratory study consisting of 17 interviews precedes the realisation of five case studies, conducted at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), the Bibliothèque publique d’information (Bpi), the Musée national d’art moderne Centre Pompidou (MNAM), the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (MBAM) and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). In addition, this research led to a comparative France-Canada analysis.

The author highlights the persistence and weakening effect of artists’ criticism of marketing, and shows how opposition to the genre in cultural organisations remains visible in the battle lines between marketing and culture. In addition to examining that conflict, the thesis proposes ways to effectively integrate marketing in cultural organisations.

The thesis can be viewed online at: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-01865365

How to reduce costs in local governments?

Thesis by Sébastien Dony, Nantes-Atlantique Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEMNA); supervised by François Meyssonnier, Professor, Université de Nantes, France. Thesis defence date: 25 June 2018.


 

 

Reducing operating expenses is an imperative today for all French local governments. This need raises new challenges that lead to the question: how to reduce costs in local governments? The literature suggests that this issue can be explored by focusing the analysis on operating expense-reduction strategies (first research question) and on efficiency-improvement approaches implemented in local public services (second research question).

To explore these questions, the author conducted case studies in local governments that have achieved operating savings since 2014/2015. The objective of this research is to produce new academic knowledge regarding strategic and operational cost-reduction levers that can be directly used by local government managers.

Regarding the first research question, three operating expense-reduction strategies are identified. Practical contributions regarding the content, the preparation and the implementation of saving programmes are presented. Regarding the second research question, the analysis of the approaches implemented in local public services point to three efficiency-improvement areas. In the light of these results, a methodology is elaborated to assist service managers in defining and implementing targeted efficiency-improvement actions. Combining theoretical concepts from management control, public management (New Public Management) and service (operations) management, this research provides new insights for the study of cost reduction in local governments.

To obtain a copy of the thesis, please write to Sébastien Dony at: sebastien.dony@univ-ubs.fr

Forthcoming events

Conferences

Smart City and Sustainable Public Management

Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris, 23-24 May 2019

More than 80% of French people live on less than 20% of the national territory. Globally, 2% of the planet’s surface hosts more than half of its inhabitants. In these territories, multiple solidarities have now taken place, as well as antagonisms of interests that challenge the good practices of public management. If territories become “smart”, should sustainability be placed at the heart of these concerns? A smart territory must be able to understand and adapt to its environment, to be transformed, to be resilient, to anticipate disturbances, to minimise their effects, by implementing means of actions, through learning and training innovation, according to the goals to be achieved, while respecting its sustainability.

These issues will be addressed at an international conference entitled “Smart City and Sustainable Public Management”, organised by the International Association of Research in Public Management (AIRMAP) with support from IGPDE.

For further details, go to: https://airmap2019.sciencesconf.org/

15th French Political Science Association Conference

Sciences Po Bordeaux, 2-4 July

This year’s 15th French Political Science Association (AFSP) Conference marks 70 years since the association was founded. As well as drawing in 1,000 researchers from around the world to engage in more than 400 hours of debate, the 2019 Conference will also host the 8th International Conference of French-speaking Associations of Political Science (CoSPoF).

This year’s conference will feature three separate activities. First, themed tracks will explore the latest developments in French political science research. Second, keynote speeches will cover the big issues of the day, from the changing face of comparative research in today’s world to the growth of African studies. There will also be a public keynote on the 2019 European Parliament elections, the results of which will be known several weeks ahead of the conference. And third, there will be a series of poster sessions where researchers will share their insights, in a concise and visually compelling way, on a given research project, methodology question or database.

For further details, go to: https://www.afsp.info/congres/congres-2019/


3rd Annual Conference of the European Initiative on Security Studies

Sciences Po, Paris, 27-28 June 2019

The European Initiative on Security Studies (EISS) is a Europe-wide multidisciplinary network of scholars from over 80 universities that share the goal of consolidating security studies in Europe. Specifically, the aims of the EISS are two-fold. The first is to hold an annual conference with permanent themed tracks to develop and sustain a Europe-wide network in the field of security studies. The second is to give security researchers and academics from across Europe an opportunity to present their current work and to develop new research partnerships.

The EISS Conference is a multidisciplinary, thematically driven event open to all theoretical approaches. This year’s third annual conference will feature separate tracks covering issues such as WMD non-proliferation and arms control, defence cooperation and military assistance, terrorism and counter-terrorism, and the past, present and future of transatlantic security.

For further details, go to: https://eiss-europa.com/

   

The Researcher's View

The Researcher's View presents summaries of articles published in peer reviewed journals on administrative sciences, thesis recently defended in the area of public management and forthcoming events.

 

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