Life and Death of a Directorate within the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Assessing the French Foreign Audiovisual Policy through its Bureaucratic Entrepreneurs
By Romain Lecler

How do we explain the dismantling of an administration ? To answer this rarely-asked question, we focus on a governing body in charge of French foreign audiovisual policy, within the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We emphasize three “ideal-types” of bureaucratic entrepreneurship that bear witness both to the story of an administration and the larger background of how the concept of an administration changed between the 1980s and the early years of the twenty-first century. A first heroic figure takes the form of a “Schumpeterian” entrepreneur : Pierre achieved a pioneering “bureaucratic feat” in the early 1980s when, within the world of French cultural diplomacy permeated by the notion of cultural legitimacy, he legitimized the illegitimate cause of television, renaming it a technological innovation, i.e. satellite broadcasting. The second figure is a “manager”, Paul, who took over at the end of the 1990s as the boss of an independent administration and the head of a network. He was an innovator in his recruitment and management methods, which were inspired by the private sector, and expert in the art of politicizing matters through his Minister. The third figure is Jacques, an entrepreneur on the defensive, who, in the years 2000, had to wind up the governing body in charge of foreign audiovisual policy, in a context of harsher competition between administrations, and following the new management reforms that aimed to redesign French foreign cultural policy and competition between administrations.

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