According to Michel Godet, the French are wrongly obsessed with the relocation of manufacturing activities to other countries. He argues instead that it is "less a case of de-industrializing than of shifts in manufacturing practices and the internationalization of industrial activities", and indeed these changes have a beneficial impact on employment.
That manufacturing productivity should rise is a good thing as long as there is service sector growth, including in services for firms that will contribute to the needed expansion of the tertiary sector of the French economy.
The real problem of the French economy and society lies not in globalization or in de-industrialization. Rather, it arises from the fact that, rather than encouraging initiative, every effort is made to keep uncompetitive firms in business artificially.
What we should do, says Michel Godet, is first of all help successful firms to expand and to activate dormant projects. We should abandon the myth of large-scale plans and instead stimulate the creation of activities which would, in turn, create jobs. We should stop dreaming of a knowledge economy fuelled by major programmes for research and development, and create a new collective pattern of growth based on a network of skills, individuals and organizations. They should stop attacking each other and work together to create a new collective dynamism.
In short, Godet concludes, we should stop looking for a foreign scapegoat for France's problems and also stop hoping for salvation from abroad. The solutions lie above all in mobilizing people and therefore in better management - this alone could lift the country out of its threatened stagnation.
Small and medium-sized firms are a key element in the European economy: by the EU definition (0-250 employees), they make up 99.8% of all businesses (more than 93% of them employ fewer than 10 people), i.e. 65.8% of all employment. Yet the public authorities offer them little support, largely because the authorities operate on a very different scale to small firms.
André Lebeau argues that it is possible to change this state of affairs, for instance by learning from the American experience. Despite its ultra-free market stance, the United States has in fact put in place a wide range of public support for small businesses, especially via tenders and contracts to supply federal agencies. These measures have existed for over 50 years (Small Business Act, 1953) and are regularly updated.
While identical measures cannot be applied to small firms in the EU, they could serve to inspire support for this key element in the European economy. André Lebeau suggests how this might be done, proposing the launch of pilot projects, starting with ones in the framework of the European space programme, a sector that he knows well.
Depuis sa proclamation internationale au sommet de la Terre (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), le concept de développement durable s’étend, au-delà des ONG et des organisations internationales, aux cercles de la politique et de l’entre¬prise. Le sommet de Johannesburg a marqué une nette inflexion de l’action vers la sphère économique, avec un appel à sa vocation citoyenne. Mais comment évaluer cette responsabilité sociétale des entreprises (RSE) ? Au mieux, ses premières manifestations concrètes ne remontent qu’aux années ...
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Futuribles International ayant, depuis plus de 40 ans, développé des activités de veille, de prospective et d'analyse stratégique qui font autorité grâce au fait que l'association travaille comme centre de ressources en lien avec les meilleurs think-tanks français et étrangers et procédé à un balayage critique, systématique et permanent des travaux les plus récents sur les perspectives à moyen et à long terme, il nous a semblé intéressant de prendre l'initiative de lancer une première étude en ...
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As part of the revision of the overall plan for the Île-de-France, a study of the "deindustrialization" of the Paris region was carried out by a team of consultants for the regional directorate of the Ministry of Infrastructure. This article highlights the main findings.
The authors first outline the changes observed in France and in the Paris region over the last 30 years. This overview reveals, basically, that manufacturing employment has fallen sharply and, in spite of major improvements in productivity, the share of the national value added contributed by firms in the Île-de-France has fallen. By contrast, it appears that commercial services have expanded and have largely offset the decline in the manufacturing sector in the region.
Having given details of this finding, the authors suggest two possible scenarios based on a survey they conducted of 40 decision-makers.
The first scenario relates to firms which intend to "act so as to optimize costs and rationalize their activities", while the second relates to those that focus rather on developing certain specialties. The authors argue that, in any case, the image of Paris and its region has a decisive impact on the way the area develops and on where firms choose to locate. They go on to stress that these two scenarios are not mutually exclusive but rather correspond to different strategic approaches open to different sectors and specializations. They also discuss the impact of these strategies on where firms choose to locate within the Île-de-France and how these choices can contribute to spatial polarization.
The big worry used to be the relocation of jobs abroad. Now the talk is rather of "deindustrialization". The precise term matters little. The fact is that, throughout the West and especially in France, there are fears that China will become the world's factory and India will be its main provider of high-tech services, not to mention the role of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and, more generally, the rapidly developing nations increasingly competing with the old industrialized countries.
Michel Drancourt has been an astute commentator on the business scene for almost 50 years, he was formerly responsible for industrial redeployment in Lorraine (a region in eastern France suffering from industrial decline), and he also set up GERIS (Groupement économique de reconversion industrielle et de services, an agency to promote job creation in manufacturing and services) for the firm of Thomson. Here he reacts to a recent report by DATAR, La France, puissance industrielle [France as an Industrial Power] (Paris: La documentation Française, 2004), and argues that, as well as the growing competition faced by the countries of the Old World, firms are having to contend with other major pressures: first, the race to cut prices, partly in response to pressures from big retailers, which means that productivity is considered more important than job creation; secondly, technical change (in the broadest sense) and the more general need to be innovative, with regard to products, services and processes, which alone can create new markets.
With the help of many examples, the author describes the changes under way in modern economies and stresses that, in order to create wealth and jobs, it is essential to take advantage of expanding markets (whence the need to be part of them) and to develop new products and services.
Après avoir quitté la direction de la CFDT et le monde syndical, Nicole Notat a créé en août 2002 l’agence d’audit « Vigeo », dont l’objectif est d’être une société d’évaluation des performances sociales et environnementales des entreprises, à l’échelle européenne. Après qu’Hugues de Jouvenel ait rappelé que l’idée de responsabilité sociétale des entreprises était, à l’égal du développement durable ou de la gouvernance, en plein essor, ce qui pousse tout un chacun ...
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La question centrale de ce nouveau thème de recherche de Philippe d’Iribarne pourrait se résumer ainsi : comment concilier tradition et modernité en entreprise ? En d’autres termes, y a-t-il une autre voie de développement que celle qui consiste à s’inspirer du modèle occidental ? Le livre qu’il vient présenter, Le Tiers-Monde qui réussit. Nouveaux modèles, s’appuie sur des enquêtes de terrain dans des entreprises situées au Sud, et cherche à savoir comment fonctionnent les entreprises dans des ...
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In the United States and in Europe, increasing numbers of business executives are on trial, accused of fraud or, more precisely, of having artificially inflated the value of their stocks and having thereby betrayed the trust of their partners.
Drawing from a study carried out by Futuribles, André-Yves Portnoff points out that one of the principal responsibilities of senior executives should be to maintain a balance between the interests of shareholders and those of the other groups concerned: customers, workforce, suppliers, etc. He stresses how much capitalism is likely to suffer as a result of these practices, which are motivated solely by the lure of short-term financial gain, and of a lack of a collective moral stance which would sustain values that are far more important for business performance in the medium and long term.
Les pays de l'OCDE sont davantage attentifs à la nécessité d'investir dans la recherche et le développement pour doper leurs performances économiques et rester compétitifs face à des économies comme la Chine et Israël, dont les moyens progressent rapidement, selon cette édition des Perspectives de la science, de la technologie et de l'industrie de l'OCDE. Entre 1995 et 2002, la Chine a doublé ses dépenses de recherche-développement (R&D) qui, en pourcentage du produit intérieur brut (PIB ...
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Sous l'effet combiné de l'allongement de la durée de la vie et du recul de la fécondité, nos sociétés vieillissent inexorablement. Cependant, paradoxalement, la structure par âge des entreprises françaises ne semble pas refléter les évolutions démographiques générales : elle se trouve plutôt être le résultat de décisions prises en matière de « gestion des âges », i.e. d'utilisation de l'âge comme critère de gestion de l'emploi, sous l'influence de facteurs économiques et sociologiques. Sur la ...
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Renforcer le pouvoir des citoyens et l’activité, désenclaver les territoires : Internet y contribue, mais il favorise aussi des hégémonies. Il faut faire des choix techniques et organisationnels conformes à nos valeurs, en optant pour des standards ouverts, en préservant la vie privée. La société de la connaissance n’a pas de sens si on bâillonne la connaissance, nous exposant à de nouveaux Tchernobyl. Exploitons le numérique pour qu’entreprises et société fassent réellement le pari de l’intelligence.
Le rapport de Jean-Michel Yolin propose une nouvelle mise à jour du rapport « Internet et PME » de 1997. Il a pour but d'une part d'examiner de quelle façon Internet peut participer à la compétitivité des entreprises françaises et d'autre part de proposer des actions pour que les entreprises tirent le meilleur parti de cette évolution. Après avoir présenté les enjeux, les atouts et les risques de l'Internet, l'auteur étudie plus particulièrement l'impact de l ...
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Comment innover ? L'innovation, cette faculté tant recherchée de nos jours par les organisations, peut-elle résulter de la simple application de pratiques prédéfinies ? Quelle part est laissée au hasard ? Schématiquement, deux courants s'affrontent dans ce grand débat. Le premier prône que l'innovation réussie résulte de l'application de facteurs-clés de succès ; une fois identifiés, ces facteurs apportent ainsi une sorte de « garantie » de succès à l'organisation. A contrario, le second courant soutient que l'approche « rationnelle », résultante ...
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Pursuing the investigations conducted by various authors in 2003 on the potential role of businesses in the social field, Futuribles publishes here an article by François Fatoux and Frédéric Tiberghien on the evaluation of the non-financial aspects of firms. After a brief outline of how the concept of socially responsible investment (SRI) developed, the authors discuss the main agencies concerned with assessing the social performance of firms, in France and in Europe and elsewhere. They describe the methodologies adopted by these bodies, the means used and the ways in which these efforts are gradually making firms and stock markets take account of non-financial criteria in evaluating performance.
In this regard, the growing professionalization of such agencies is clearly a measure of their acknowledged usefulness and this should strengthen their credibility in future. If in addition there is a clean-up of murky accounting practices (such as were revealed by the Enron and WorldCom scandals in 2002), there are good reasons to hope that (good) governance of firms will in the end coincide with the all-too-necessary aims of sustainable development.
In the June 2003 issue of Futuribles we published an article by Michel Albert arguing that business could have a key role in promoting sustainable development. Nicole Notat has a similar viewpoint here, showing how the idea of the social responsibility of firms (SRF) has developed, driven by the growing awareness of the social and environmental risks associated with their activities and by a groundswell of opinion among both intergovernmental organizations and civil society.
Mme Notat describes the forms that reactions to these new demands can take, including ethical financing and socially responsible investments, or where necessary outright philanthropic actions. Better still, she stresses that firms can make a real contribution through preventive or proactive strategies that integrate social and environmental concerns in their management.
At the same time, Nicole Notat argues that, because there is no normative statement of what the SRF involves, it is essential to ensure that efforts conducted under this label are in fact genuine. Hence the creation of agencies like the one she heads, Vigeo, which tries to ensure the good faith and good practice on the part of firms.
For her, in any case, the issue is extremely important and the investment in it will be rewarded. A firm that os truly socially responsible has every likelihood of also being more competitive in the short term and, a fortiori, in the long term too.
Firms are increasingly obliged to be accountable for the impact of their activities on the environment. Anticipating this need, many firms have begun to include this requirement in their annual reports, sometimes even producing a report specifically concerned with sustainable development. How worthwhile are these early initiatives?
Thierry Lavoux and Patrice Grégoire have examined a study of the 2001 annual reports of 150 French firms conducted by the French Institute for the Environment (IFEN). They issue a warning: environmental reports have been produced by few firms, especially those whose activities involve considerable risks to the environment, and they should be treated with caution. These reports tend to provide few facts, especially long-term data, but plenty of general ideas.
Moreover, their findings are corroborated by several international surveys whose results they summarize. Sustainable development is clearly a matter of increasing concern so that firms have to give an account of what they are doing in this regard. Yet much progress remains to be made before this concern becomes fully integrated in management thinking and firms produce plausible reports of their efforts to act responsibly towards the environment.
Contrary to the beliefs of neoclassical economists, the value of a firm (or a territory or, more generally, an organization) cannot be assessed solely in traditional accounting terms which, at best, tell us about the past and not about their potential to create value. And this is all the more true when we start looking at an economy where the main factors of wealth are intangibles.
The problem, however, is that "intangibles" is an umbrella term covering all manner of things, and it can give rise to a wide range of interpretations, depending on whether it is taken to mean only skills and intellectual potential, or only items related to information, or ...; besides, it is usually understood as a stock, although increasingly it should be treated in terms of flows and interactions.
A study group was therefore established by Futuribles to determine, on the basis of specific cases, what the key components of "intangibles" are, to explore the indicators that might best capture them, and lastly to develop a tool to evaluate and assist the strategic guidance of organizations.
Véronique Lamblin and André-Yves Portnoff, who together led this working group, present here how we arrived at our conception of this intangible capital, what its main components are (collective intelligence, quality of relationships, organizational factors, capacity to activate, etc.), and what is involved in the method of evaluation that has been developed, called "Valeur Instantanée et Prospective" (VIP, Immediate and Prospective Value) of organizations.
This method has already been successfully tested on several firms; in the future it may perhaps enable firms to avoid strategic errors arising from reliance on traditional accounting systems that are now clearly inadequate.
Just over ten years ago Michel Albert published an influential book Capitalism against Capitalism (Capitalisme contre capitalisme, Paris: Seuil, 1991) in which he contrasted two models of capitalism: the "neo-American" model, geared to individual success and profit, and the "Rhineland" model, which emphasized collective success, consensus and concern for the long term.
Since then, Michel Albert has often had things to say about the decline of the Rhineland model, and the retreat of "social market economics" in favour of the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism. But now suddenly he is arguing that firms -making up for the shortcomings of the state- are paradoxically starting in the United States to embody a new style of social market economics...
He is now arguing that there are two contrasting models of the firm: one is concerned only with maximizing profits for shareholders, whereas the other is motivated by the ideal of broad-based partnerships, seeking to reconcile the interests of customers, shareholdersand employees as well as both short- and long-term demands.
And, somewhat surprisingly, Michel Albert reveals that this new style of firm, which is both socially responsible and a highly efficient business, is coming from the United States to show us what to do.
At the start of the 21st century, there were less than 1 million small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Russia. Most of these were in Moscow or St.-Petersburg. Employment in SMEs has fallen in the last 3 years to about seven million people. The proportion of SMEs per thousand of population is well below European levels. Should these downward trends be changed, and if so how? The potential for entrepreneurship amongst the Russian people appears to be no ...
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