Training French senior civil engineers as managers

"Managerial identity", the corps des Ponts et Chaussées and its relation to the state
By Julie Gervais

Following a recent statutory reform which led it to broadly rethink its contours, the corps des Ponts et Chaussées designed an initial management training for its new recruits. Subject to divergent expectations in terms of the image and professional positioning of the corps, "managerial identity" became the focus of serious conflict within the corps. Some, represented by the professional association, argued for a management encouraging the departure of engineers toward the private sector whilst others used it as a means to encourage their peers to transfer from the public to the private sector. The apparent consensus and the current trend towards heightened managerial control conceal a series of issues concerning the Ponts et Chaussées' identity and control. Analyzing management through its training enables us to deconstruct its imagery by trying to grasp to what extent the relationships between higher civil servants and French administration are at issue here.

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