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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.
At the end of November 2004 a report was published in France, produced by Claude Bébéar at the request of the prime minister, on discrimination by firms. In particular, the report showed evidence of undoubted discrimination against foreigners or people of foreign descent with regard to hiring, and it called for a radical change in attitudes.
Michèle Tribalat is a researcher at INED ("Institut national d'études démographiques") and the author of one of the most recent studies to investigate ethnic criteria that provides statistical evidence on the true extent of discrimination in France (1992). She discusses the present position with regard to combating discrimination in this country (against minorities, women, the handicapped, etc.), and shows in particular how much France relies heavily on a "hyperjuridical" and global approach to the problem, being generally content to pass legislation and apply (without great zeal) EU directives. She stresses the lack of any real political will to measure how much discrimination there is: no satisfactory statistical tools exist, not even in employment, which is an area where using existing surveys would, without involving major difficulties, yield studies based on actual figures.
By contrast, the United States - which has been very active in combating discrimination since the 1960s - has been highly pragmatic and this has allowed the Americans to measure what has in fact been happening. Michèle Tribalat presents here, as an example, the way they gather data relating to the employment of women and minorities in American firms, and shows how this could be transposed to France. However, apart from the periodic bursts of interest in this issue, do the French really want to have such statistical information? Are we ready to abandon the current global approach and tackle the problem at a more refined level (employment, housing, etc.)?
Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.
- Le travail est mort, vive la société de loisir ?
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