By Roger Trapp, June 30, 2017
The election of Emmanuel Macron as president of France earlier this year and his subsequent triumph in legislative elections is expected to lead to a concerted attempt at a widespread reform of the French economy. But it appears that a revolution in France’s corporate world has already been under way for some time.
In the seven years or so since Brian Carney and Isaac Getz’s book, Freedom, Inc (Argo Navis) was covered by Forbes the idea that managers do not always know what is best for their companies has taken hold across, not just France, but other French-speaking countries, including Belgium and Switzerland, and beyond. In a recent interview, Getz, professor of leadership and innovation at ESCP Europe Business School, said it had become “a real phenomenon”, spanning hundreds of companies and public-sector bodies. Liberating leaders was an idea that had really resonated with people, but it was not something that they would readily embark upon alone, he said. Of course, there are well-known examples of other companies that have reduced or done way with hierarchies – notably the Brazilian industrial company Semco and the U.S. business W.L. Gore, maker of Gore-Tex waterproof fabrics and guitar strings among other things. But Getz’s point is that in France there is an “ecosystem” that is serving as an alternative to the more traditional command-and-control organizations that persist even at a time when consultants and theorists urge businesses to do more to empower and engage their workforces.
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