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Path-Dependent and Path-Breaking Changes in the French Administrative System: The Weight of Legacy Explanations

Abstract : The French bureaucracy has often been viewed as one of the most in need of reforms among Western countries but also as one of the most ‘frozen’ or ‘immovable’. Michel Crozier’s theory of France as a ‘stalled society’ with a ‘stalled state’ (Crozier 1964, 1970) has provided a widely accepted framework. In many comparative studies, France has been portrayed as a special case (Page 1995), a laggard (Pollitt and Bouckaert 2004; de Montricher 1996; Rouban 1995) and only weakly influenced by NPM ideas (Rouban 2006). If it is really the case that administrative reforms have been more limited in France, a first research question should be to understand why the French administrative system is more resistant to change. But a further formulation could consider the possibility that the French system has changed differently, following a specific trajectory due to the constraints and the impacts of its institutional arrangements. Other than convulsive ruptures, institutional changes can take various forms (Bezes 2007a; Bezes and Lodge 2007; Hall 1993; Streeck and Thelen 2005): low-profile, ideational, incremental, gradual, each of them potentially transformative.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - 4:37:21 PM
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Philippe Bezes. Path-Dependent and Path-Breaking Changes in the French Administrative System: The Weight of Legacy Explanations. Tradition and Public Administration, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.158 - 174, 2010, 9780230289635. ⟨hal-02295989⟩

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