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This article is based on a study of interviews carried out in 2013–2014 at the Ministry of Ecology (with the participation N. Vezinat). It aims to study the effects of the Nouvelle Gestion Publique (New Public Management) on the ends of careers of the executive staff in the French public sector. In a context of progressive ageing of employees in the public sector, this article tries to show how some experienced managers can be trapped in professional dead-ends, as they can’t comply with the new skills linked to the new public management. Although many of them have developed very specific skills and taken many sacrifices throughout their careers, the internal labor market cannot keep its promises, which is why we call them “orphans.” After having described the recent changes in French administration, we stress the issue of the ageing of its employees. The next part studies how elderly managers perceive the changes they are facing. We finally explain why we believe they belong to an “orphan” generation.


  • public sector
  • management
  • internal labor market
  • ageing
  • new public management
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