Forum, Futuribles Journal n° 304

Économie, emploi - Entreprises, travail

De-industrializing or Modernizing?


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.

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