Trade-Unionism captured by management

The conditions of production of a managerial expertise of trade union action through the prism of its diversified investments
By Baptiste Giraud

This article aims at analyzing the dynamics of construction of management consulting companies specialized in the management of relations with trade-unions. In the 1970's, these consultancies emerged in a context of an increase in industrial disputes, around practitioners of industrial relations, strongly linked with social scientists, and some reconverted activists. Thanks to the examination of their trajectories and of their practices, we hope to go beyond an approach to management development focused solely on the concerns of employers. Taking account of the forms of professional and political socialization of these consultants is a way of highlighting their inclination to see confrontation between unions and bosses according to their own specific logic and interests and to detect an issue of "civilization" in conflicts between employers and trade-unions. From this point of view, it is also possible to determine how they try to convert their know-how into a recognized managerial expertise.

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