CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

1Since the 1980s, both in the context of administrative reform and through periodic ad hoc measures, governments have continually modified the structures of their public administrations. Promoting specialization through the creation of new directorates and agencies on one hand, combating excessive organizational fragmentation through mergers or by advocating integrated organizations on the other, those in power have devised multiple initiatives to “manipulate the machine” [1] or to shake up state architectures by “playing” with the “building blocks” [2] of the various organizations that make up ministries. In each case, the structures of public administrations have been constructed and reconstructed as if in an endless game of bureaucratic Lego. Reorganizations of state architecture are large-scale phenomena that regularly affect states.

2Sometimes they involve making a certain function autonomous, ensuring that a specific task or new public policy will be properly handled or rendered more visible by creating a separate dedicated and specialized structure for that purpose, often dubbed an “agency”. Sometimes, on the contrary, they involve merging organizations, grouping directorates or ministerial portfolios differently, creating “one stop shops”, dealing with interministerial problems that it is thought would be better resolved by putting in place a new, larger organization; and, on occasion, correcting the excesses of prior policies of specialization. In all cases, though, the reformative logic at work consists of reconfiguring the “division of state labor”, traditionally understood to involve the distribution of tasks, roles, and responsibilities within public organizations. This new division of labor translates into the transformation of boundaries and jurisdictions: so-called “boundary work”, [3] i.e. the stabilizing, delimitation, extension, reinforcement, or challenging of organizational boundaries. It also translates into processes of deliberate specialization and structural differentiation of functions, both vertically (by creating additional hierarchical tiers, or even new levels of administration in the case of decentralization) and horizontally (by adding new organizational units at the same level).

3As ably demonstrated by Émile Durkheim, [4] and subsequently by Max Weber, [5] both of whom insist upon the importance of stable and regular principles of specialization in the construction of bureaucracies, the division of labor constitutes a structuring dimension within the organization of the state and of power. [6] The act of dividing, differentiating, specializing or, on the contrary, that of integrating, merging, or uniting, represents what we might call a “constitutive [or constituant] administrative activity”. By which we understand a policy “whose objective and most visible effect is to redistribute powers and capacities for action, to impose general rules and to produce representations of the legitimate public order”. [7] Reorganizing a ministry by separating it out into “agencies” in charge of specific public policies (such as the Agence France Trésor [AFT], as studied by Benjamin Lemoine), defining units within police commissariats per type of offense (as discussed in Élodie Lemaire’s contribution), creating broad regional “agencies” for health (the Agences Régionales de Santé [ARS]) through the merging of multiple state and health insurance services (as described in Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland’s article), and establishing large regional or departmental directorates to reform the territorial state (Philippe Bezes and Patrick Le Lidec) constitute so many contemporary variations and illustrations of this reordering of organizational forms.

4The intellectual project of this thematic issue of the Revue française de science politique is to explore these “politics and policies of organization”, considered here as “rationalized techniques of government”. [8] They constitute an instrument for the redistribution of power, functions, and hierarchies, one that is central to the transformation of forms of state government; but equally, they reveal power relations and institutional struggles within the state. It is the belief of the editors and authors of this issue that such interventions into the division of labor in state bureaucracies provide a conventional angle of entry [9] from which to approach a sociology of the state under recomposition, but one which is nonetheless subject to rapid change. [10] Thus we follow in the footsteps of works of Weberian inspiration that privilege an internal sociology of the state, emphasizing the dynamics of differentiation, specialization, autonomization, and integration.

5In particular, the four contributions presented here are centered on the transformation of the organizational forms of the central state in the broad sense, including public institutions (central governments and agencies) and devolved services. We have therefore deliberately left aside both the manipulation of territorial architectures, which is pursued through policies of decentralization [11] and the merging of local authorities; [12] and the reconfiguring of commercial companies, [13] although numerous comparative approaches are obviously possible given that, for example, reorganizations of private enterprises make use of models that may later be adopted in state reform policies.

6In focusing on the new divisions of labor in state bureaucracies, the central objective of this issue is to show that this “organizational approach” to the state implies neither an abandonment of political differentiation nor a neglect of political domination. [14] On the contrary, it affords us an original point of view from which to consider the wide variety of “organizational politics and policies” and the way in which they are put to use. The four contributions brought together in this issue are thus resolutely inscribed within the perspective of political sociology. They rest upon qualitative methodologies and searching empirical studies that take account of the fabrication and uses of organizational forms. Two of our articles are dedicated to processes of specialization: Benjamin Lemoine examines the creation of the Agence France Trésor in 2001 and how its relative autonomy was constructed in relation to political power; Élodie Lemaire examines the dynamics of the creation of specialized units in police commissariats. The two remaining contributions look at mergers, which are often seen as part of a resurgence in strategies of integration and coordination, but which also affect the modes of specialization. Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland analyze the creation of the Agences Régionales de Santé between 2007 and 2012, interpreting it as a process whereby a highly fragmented French healthcare system was integrated; Philippe Bezes and Patrick Le Lidec explore the political and institutional mechanisms at work in the reform of the territorial administration of the state (REATE) from 2007 to 2012: here the “merger” form played a central role in the service of a profound transformation of the “territorial state à la française”.

7After reviewing the ways in which the politics of organization has become a new resource for the contemporary art of governance, this introductory article briefly describes the two typical formats that dominate contemporary transformations of the state organization: agencies and mergers. It then discusses the contributions made by various works on reorganization and their limits, going on to defend a political sociology perspective that emphasizes the various forms of political intervention into bureaucratic architectures. Throughout, but most specifically in the final part, we present the four contributions to this special issue.

The politics of organization as a technique of government

8Questions of the division of labor have historically been central issues for public bureaucracies and states. Weber’s foundational analyses on the professionalization of state administrations accorded a cardinal place to the processes of rationalization of the division of labor, which he considered to be essential indices of the construction of bureaucracy. [15] As Dietrich Rueschemeyer points out: “The growth of the modern state demonstrates that a specialization of work roles may go hand in hand with an agglomeration of functions at the level of organizations and institutional complexes.” [16] The differentiation of functions and structures is an issue that lies at the heart of the sociology of the state. [17] The classic works of public administration, inspired by organizational theories, have also emphasized the diversity of modes of specialization – whether vertical or horizontal – and their effects on hierarchy and coordination. [18]

9Although the division of organizations into smaller units and sweeping merger processes may both form part of the traditional toolbox for “building” and “rebuilding” administrations, numerous studies have noted a growing intensification of specialization projects within bureaucracies, describing recurrent forms of “manipulation of the administrative machine”. [19] Where Max Weber vaunted specialization’s stabilizing virtues, today on the contrary we seem to be witnessing a permanent remodeling of state architectures, and what we might call repeated “investments in forms”, which may be considered as “manipulations” of the ways in which the “governmental machine” is specialized. Specialization is the object of processes of rationalization through which its formal dimension and its formats are under constant review. [20] Along the same lines, neo-institutionalist sociologists have emphasized the continuation of this rationalization of organizational forms by associating the pursuit of bureaucratization with the proliferation and circulation “of formal and rationalized organizational structures” [21] that reconfigure the boundaries of administrative architectures and favor the growth of the rational model of the organization [22] to the detriment of institutions which had historically been described in more substantial terms (the school, the hospital, the prison, etc.).

10This process, it seems, grew in scale from the 1980s onward, under the influence of two phenomena. On the one hand, the institutionalization of policies of administrative reform, which progressively came to occupy pride of place on Western governmental agendas, was regularly translated into the watchwords of structural reform: this was the case with the agencification of UK ministries with the Next Steps reform of 1988, inspired by the principles of New Public Management (NPM), and in the restructuring via merger decreed in France in 2007 in the context of the Révision générale des politiques publiques (RGPP). On the other hand, the fabrication and circulation of organizational standards (the “agency” and the “merger”) – what Paul DiMaggio and Walter M. Powell call “rational myths” [23] – led to their widespread use in state reform, legitimized by scholarly studies and diffused by consultants. Although early studies privileged neutral concepts of “reorganization” or restructuring, [24] authors now tend more to emphasize the institutionalization of these policies of reorganization: some speak of practices of “bureau-shuffling”, [25] of the “machinery of government”, [26] or of seasonal cycles in which structures are disaggregated and subsequently reaggregated. [27]

11For those in power, intervention in administrative architectures has become a technique of government in itself. Christopher Hood considers political action concerning the organization as one of four instruments employed in the exercise of power. [28] Altering the division of labor is a way of influencing the distribution of power, ensuring the reinforcement of stated objectives, and of appearing receptive to the demands of social groups. Similarly, James March and Johan P. Olsen claim that organizational reform now constitutes a public policy in and of itself (“the policy of comprehensive reform”) characterized by the “search for appropriate institutions” and driven by two types of motives: questions of managerial control and budget savings on one side (“administrative orthodoxy”), so as to reinforce the efficiency of bureaucracies; and power struggles in which interest groups compete around organizational forms for “access, representation, control, and […] policy benefits” (Realpolitik). [29] Along the same lines, Matthew E. Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg suggest that the US Executive’s repeated political investment in structures of federal administration and agencies attests to the fact that they now seek to influence not only the fabrication and implementation of public policies, but appointments to the directorships of public organizations. [30] Conflicts over organizational architectures and their (re)design constitute a new arena for party political struggles: the electoral majorities now seek to compete by undermining one another’s organizational basis so as to influence and control public policy. Interventions into the division of state labor in state bureaucracies constitute a new battlefield which lies at the heart of the development of what Stephen Skrowronek and Karen Orren call the “policy state” – the state characterized by its actions, which are materialized in the multiple public policies that it implements and by the central role they play in the functioning of state institutions. [31]

Organizational transformation and state architecture: agencies and mergers

12Over the contemporary period, the intensification of interventions in the division of labor within bureaucracies has come to be embodied in two distinct organizational forms, often schematically opposed to one another: agencies and mergers. They correspond to different ways of intervening in the division of labor in state bureaucracies, but also relate to legitimated templates that circulate and are diffused across various institutional fields and through the leitmotifs of state reform policy. They are associated to a greater or lesser degree with academic or proto-professional fields of study (economics, management, organizational theory, etc.) that foster a critique of the historical structures of bureaucracies and justify recourse to new divisions of labor. Rethinking the division of labor is also justified as a response to new issues in public policy (risk, sustainable development, etc.) that are better addressed by new forms of organization, and to new ways of tackling classical issues of public policy (security, economy, etc.). The following section presents the empirical realities of these two organizational standards and the beliefs associated with them.

The politics of agencification

13Starting in the 1980s, the creation of new agencies, or the “agencification” of existing ministerial directorates is considered as the characteristic dynamic of an organizational mode of reasoning that has spawned a considerable volume of academic literature. [32] This dynamic has two dimensions: a monofunctional logic that aims to isolate a certain strategic function (financing, regulation, implementation, etc.) within a public policy in order to attribute it to a specialized organization; and a logic of autonomization that aims to increase, to some extent, the leeway afforded to these new entities. And yet the global phenomenon of agencification assumes a remarkable variety of forms, [33] as confirmed by each foray into a concrete national context. Certain authors prefer to use the term “quangos”, which they define in terms of a “world of quangos” that stretches along a “continuum from central government agencies, like the Next Steps in the UK and the agentschappen in the Netherlands, to specifically created external bodies and beyond into the world of contracting out, privatization and regulation”. [34]

14The ways in which such bodies are analyzed, described, and categorized are themselves complex since there are multiple dimensions according to which one might measure the specialization and autonomy conferred upon them. Schematically, we can distinguish three types of agencies.

15At one end of the continuum, the first type concerns the transformation of ministerial directorates into “agencies”, often called “executive agencies”. Remaining within the purview of a ministry, but created to implement specific public policies, these agencies are endowed with a certain autonomy as far as management of personnel and budget is concerned. The Next Steps reform of 1988–1991 in Great Britain, which transformed ministerial departments into executive agencies, is emblematic of this trend: the managerial autonomy these new agencies enjoyed in relation to central administrations and their presiding ministers was enshrined in performance agreements. [35] Often influenced by the principles of New Public Management, comparable if less systematic developments have been seen in other European countries (the Netherlands, Spain, and France with the creation of services à compétence nationale, SCN, from 1997 on). Having had agencies in charge of public policies for some time already, the Scandinavian countries have also moved to strengthen their managerial autonomy.

16At the other end of the continuum we find independent regulatory agencies, responsible for a particular sector of public policy. Their ascendancy and the explosion in their numbers – well documented in the literature [36] – serve to illustrate the rise of the regulatory state, as analyzed by Giandomenico Majone. [37] Research shows that these regulatory agencies have seen their number grow in Western Europe in the sectors in which they were initially set up (electricity, telecommunications); a similar proliferation can now also be observed in economic domains (financial markets, competition policy, central banks), and also in healthcare (medicine), risk management (food, sanitation, environment) and fundamental rights. [38] In France, this phenomenon can be equated with with the development of independent administrative authorities (autorités administratives indépendantes, AAI). In this context, it is not managerial autonomy that is important so much as the definition of more formalized rules of autonomy such as legal status, the (highly constrained) ways in which such authorities may be created, reformed, and abolished, the protection of their directors via contracts, the irrevocability of their membership, and the powers conferred on the administrative council, etc.

17It is between these two categories that the most diverse landscape in terms of agencified organizations is to be found, the rise of which is not linked to a wave of administrative reform, but is the result of a gradual, iterative, and often longstanding process. Here we are dealing with organizations that take charge of (or, more often, are involved in) a wide variety of state public policies, thus structuring a particular domain of public policy, but assume very diverse functions (production and performance of services, expertise, policing and control, financing, the pooling of resources, etc.). [39] These agencies generally have a legal status and a greater autonomy, but to various different degrees and across different dimensions, such as accountability to ministers, budget management, personnel management, implementation of public policies, etc.

18Whilst the “agency” format covers multiple empirical realities, it is nevertheless credited with a great many virtues, ascribed to one or the other of its two components in the doctrinal tracts (professional, but also academic) that promote them.

19On one hand, the extent to which New Public Management served to advocate the fragmentation of vertical bureaucracies through the creation of small autonomous administrative units has been widely demonstrated. [40] The acclaim for specialization rested upon particular benefits that the process was supposed to deliver: specialization would bolster the effectiveness of a policy by assigning its implementation and operation to an organization exclusively dedicated to the task. It would ensure that the objectives of public policies were protected, theorized by some authors in terms of “credible commitment”. Correlatively, the creation of a dedicated agency was also seen as a way of producing ad hoc expertise on a particular public sector or problem. This emergence of new fields of expertise is particularly related to agencies in the domain of “risk” in the broad sense (sanitary, food, nuclear, environmental), where the emphasis is placed on the separation between risk assessment (expertise) and risk management (the policy itself). Similarly, in matters of economic policy, the liberalization of the industries that were once state monopoly networks (electricity, gas, telecommunications, postal services, railways) has led to the establishment of market and competition control by regulatory authorities. The independence of central banks constitutes another emblematic illustration of this turn in economic doctrine. Yet as Élodie Lemaire’s contribution to this issue shows, specialization is advocated in other sectors of public policy too – in the case she discusses, the organization of policing policy.

20On the other hand, autonomy is also advocated in the name of keeping politics at arm’s length. According to this line of thinking, the agency is supposed to act so as to obviate and “protect the people” from the electorally oriented behaviors of supposedly “versatile” but sometimes “demagogic” (“political”) governors, who are thus to be deprived of any capacity to interfere in the day-to-day operation of the policies overseen by these “agencified” services. Thanks to the “agency”, certain public policy decisions and directions are shielded from politics. Inspired by a new organizational vision which draws on economic theories of organization, such reforms thus revive the idea that a good many issues must be removed from the influence of short-term political calculation, from the electoral cycle, and from the influence of interest groups. With the agency in place, they will be protected in the name of long-term public policy that becomes more coherent over time, oriented more toward the common good, and supposedly serving as a guarantee that rights will be upheld. [41] On the basis of a suspicion of politics, agencification is thus promoted as a new step toward the depoliticization of administrative organizations, with certain tasks entrusted to experts or technocrats.

21The depoliticization justification has of course been the object of numerous criticisms. [42] Agencification is often denounced as a technocratization of policy and a prejudicial weakening of popular sovereignty. This is the argument made by the American political scientist Alasdair Roberts, for example. Roberts sees in agencies the imposition of a “disciplinary logic” [43] which embeds eminently political economic choices in organizational forms that are autonomized and thus shielded from political scrutiny. These issues are central to Benjamin Lemoine’s contribution concerning the creation of the AFT, which reveals the limits of the depoliticization argument.

22We should also note that other more prosaic motifs have been enlisted as justifications for agencification. In doing away with the regulatory constraints that weigh upon internal ministry bodies, agencies can offer more flexibility in preserving or even increasing budget allocation, but also in the recruitment of staff on private contracts.

Merger policies

23From the 2000s onwards, it was no longer agencies but mergers that would come to seem constitutive of a homogeneous dynamic in the transformation of state structures. Mergers were described as contributing to a global reform movement that these authors baptized “post-NPM” or “whole-of-government approach”. [44] They argued that there was a set of initiatives designed to strengthen governmental coordination, centralized steering, and integration – in short, a reactive politics of organization that sought to counteract the excess of NPM reforms and the fragmentation they had brought about. [45] Examples of what some have described as “merger mania” [46] have been seen in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. These mergers are presented as movements of organizational transformation in the sense of a process of vertical or horizontal reintegration of systems, with a particular focus on interministeriality and the strengthening of forms of cooperation. [47]

24The program of “joined-up government” launched in 1999 by Tony Blair’s Labour government via a white paper on the modernization of the administration (White Paper: Modernising Government) is a prime example of an administrative reform that champions mergers and the process of integration. The program of “joined-up government” proposes to tackle “wicked issues” such as social exclusion, urban renewal, or drugs, the resolution of which calls for intersectorial procedures. [48] The reform played out in the creation of interministerial units (policy action teams) responsible for certain so-called “cross-cutting” issues; in the development of interministerial seminars and networks; in measures of horizontal integration by way of mergers or through the development of digital technologies; and, finally, in placing particular emphasis on policy delivery, concerned to integrate reception services into a “one stop shop”. During the same period, the Canadian government promoted “horizontal management”, [49] in a context of drastic reorganizations ascribed to budgetary savings. These policies do not stem merely from a desire for coordination. They also reflect systematic policies of reorganization of large-scale public bodies via mergers – as illustrated by those carried out in the hospital sector [50] and in the social policy sector in the US, the merger of the employment service and benefits agency carried out by the Labour Party in the UK (which led to the creation of a one stop shop for employment called Jobcentre Plus), [51] or in the merger, in Norway, of the Ministry of Labor (DOL) and National Insurance (NIA) within a new ministry for Employment and Social Security (NAV). [52] These reorganizations, presented as a “second generation of reform”, have given rise to competing labels, including the expression “joined-up government” after the British experience, “post-NPM”, or “whole-of-government”. [53]

25Although the French state has clearly been less systematically affected than English-speaking countries by the movement towards specialization via agencification, France nevertheless also saw a proliferation of organizational reforms championing the dynamics of organizational integration in the 2000s, and in particular a wave of mergers that was instigated in 2007 within the framework of the RGPP. The ANPE and ASSEDIC were merged to create Pôle emploi; [54] the General Directorate of Taxes (Direction générale des impôts, CGI) and the General Directorate of Public Accounting (Direction générale de la comptabilité publique, DGCP) were merged to create the General Directorate of Public Finances (Direction générale des finances publiques, DGFIP); [55] and universities too were persuaded to enter into mergers. [56]

26Here again, just as the “agency” form became a rational myth as the result of a body of professional and academic studies that legitimated it, so too the “merger” was constituted as an organizational standard credited with numerous virtues. First is the promise of economies of scale, budgetary savings, reduction of transaction costs, and improvements in efficiency. Mergers are perceived as reorganizations that make it possible to do away with redundant duplication of work and unnecessary overlaps and facilitate the pooling of functions, particularly transversal so-called “support” functions. [57] Seen as a way to improve efficiency, they supposedly allow the same service to be provided at a lesser cost thanks to “one stop shops”. Establishing large technical networks is also associated with this integrated form of organization, as is the professionalization of support functions. Another efficiency benefit associated with mergers is the anticipated possibility, in creating superministries or metaorganizations, of moving and “reallocating” agents more easily, since the new merged entities will offer greater margins of maneuver and will create a larger market of human resources, which may be an important concern in a context where budgets are tight. Authors such as Andrew Dunsire, Christopher Hood, Meg Huby, and Martin Kitchener, however, remark on the paucity of empirical verification of the supposed economies of scale achieved through such reforms. One of the methodological difficulties here is that of knowing how to isolate and measure the extent to which mergers improve efficiency – for they are often undertaken in a context where public bodies are also undergoing a reduction in resources or responsibilities.

27The second justification for mergers is the reverse of that of agencies. Whereas agencies are seen to specialize and strengthen effectiveness due to a narrower division of functions, mergers, conversely, draw their legitimacy from their supposed potential for confronting new public policy problems that are often aggravated by the logic of specialization, which tends to result in fragmentation and organizational silos. Mergers are often justified by a process of integration that allows such problems to be placed in their proper “transversal” context, by bringing together public policies that are judged to be overly autonomous. For this reason, certain studies compare mergers to a process of despecialization. This reading is arguable, however. Not only are mergers and specialization not opposites, but in fact they constitute two forms of rationalization that can, on the contrary, go hand-in-hand. Multiple mergers undertaken within the framework of the state may go together with the creation of new agencies that autonomize new functions (the creation of an agency for state purchasing, a national agency for secure documents, an agency for one-off payments of agricultural subsidies, etc.). The agencies are newly created by merging different, hitherto separate services. The argument that “professions or skills” are being brought together is, in fact, frequently invoked in mergers (as in the case of Pôle emploi or that of the DGFIP in France). Yet such an argument does not prevent the discovery, along the way, that the anticipated synergies were in fact extremely hypothetical (as professions or skills that are supposedly “close” to each other ultimately turn out to be quite different).

28Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland’s article, and that of Philippe Bezes and Patrick Le Lidec, which both appear in this issue, echo these considerations and beliefs associated with mergers. Their analyses of two reforms, the creation of ARS and the transformation of the territorial state, both instigated within the framework of the RGPP, bear witness to the influence of this ideological wave of reorganization via mergers within the French context. Nonetheless, their authors undertake to reveal the complex mechanisms that run through these merger policies and thus challenge the overly simplistic readings offered by some of the international literature.

Existing theories and their limits: between overly-rational choice and a multiplicity of factors in reorganization

29These two organizational formats illustrate how much is at stake in the politics of reorganization and the multiple ways in which political leaders are able to “manipulate the administrative machinery” in the name of various beliefs. How has this involvement in the division of labor in state bureaucracies been theorized in the literature, and what place does the political dimension occupy in the arguments put forward? Schematically, we might say that the study of processes of agencification is dominated by approaches squarely focused on theories inspired by rational choice, whereas merger processes are studied through far more syncretic approaches which impose, somewhat mechanically, the thesis of a new paradigm of administrative reform that revolves around “joined-up government”.

Agencification and rational theories of delegation

30The analysis of public sector reorganizations focused on the creation of agencies has been developed particularly in the many North American studies which focus on the “politics of structural choice” and bear the imprint of “rational choice”. These studies emphasize that the creation or transformation of a public organization is not guided principally by choices of effectiveness or efficiency, but that it is an eminently political act. It is an act, however, that depends upon rationales, which the authors writing within this school of thought – very much influenced by principal-agent economic theories or by the theory of transaction costs – do not necessarily always analyze in the same way; rather, their analysis changes depending on what they see as the predominant issue. For simplicity, two sub-currents can be distinguished here. On the one hand, in studies that draw on the foundational studies of Terry M. Moe, the question of control is uppermost. [58] The creation and “design” of federal agencies in the US is embedded within the constraints of the separation of powers, which involves multiple political compromises between interested parties around the central issue of the control of these organizations, whose power is delegated and based on expertise. The conflicts between the presidential executive and Congress are obviously of cardinal importance here. To this Moe adds two ingredients. First, the weight of electoral uncertainty leads incumbent governments to strengthen the autonomy of the institution they have created (or reformed) so as to prevent any subsequent majority from challenging their preferred public policy orientations (or to render any such intervention more costly). Second, interest groups directly concerned with the agencies and their policies continually seek to influence the “design” of agencies, supporting Congress in its efforts to remove them from the control exerted by the presidential executive. Moe thus considers that the designs of federal agencies are always “imperfect” because they are subject to influence, and thus effectiveness becomes a secondary objective in the formation of state structures. This approach, central in the US, has fueled numerous recent studies there on the development of federal agencies, particularly centered on the extent of agencies’ autonomization and issues of control linked to a series of political factors (majority, coalition, political stripe, etc.). [59]

31Elsewhere, authors such as Gary J. Miller, following in the footsteps of Douglas North and Barry Weingast, [60] give greater weight to another all-important issue: the political concern about credible commitment within the framework of electoral constraints which are liable to render government commitment to public policy objectives “inconsistent” over time because they are “changeable”. [61] This reasoning stems from the fact that public policies, as defended in an electoral campaign for example, are entrusted to a newly-created specialized organization so as to maximize the chances that they will be carried through correctly, on the basis of reliable professional expertise – but also as a symbolic gesture to make it known that the issue is being taken in hand. The delegation of this task to a dedicated organization will also offer a guarantee that the measures will outlast a potential change in government, manifesting once more the concern to seek protection from uncertainty and political influence. This theorization in terms of “credible commitment” rapidly found favor because it was mobilized in studies on the emergence of the regulative state [62] and the rise of the now widespread independent regulatory agency. [63] Against the political interventionism considered to be the prerogative of governmental authorities, these studies defend the idea that agencification is guided by the concern of the ruling powers to “tie their own hands” so as to shelter public policy decisions from electoral contingencies and guarantee a certain stability and predictability for the implemented policy.

32These are interesting perspectives: on one hand because they lay the groundwork for a true theory of politics based around a few key concepts (control, uncertainty, credible commitment); on the other hand because they make the effort to identify and to characterize truly political rationales at work in choices of structure. Even so, they are also open to criticism on a number of essential points. Unsurprisingly, given their connection to economic theories of institutions, they privilege, ex ante, very straightforward political behaviors that are aimed at optimization and are linked to the supposedly stable preferences of political leaders alone. Their decisions, all too often considered within such theories as unique moments of decision-making, seem to be entirely informed by the theory of the agent and driven by a clear, rational, and highly instrumental vision of the organizational form that they create. It is as if leaders pay extreme and hyper-rational attention to the minutest details of the administrative organizations whose creation or reform they endorse. Furthermore, these studies also overestimate the rationality of organizational forms leading to two major oversights. On one hand, these forms are not intrinsically rational but are constructed, diffused, and legitimated by their advocates as “rational myths” or “cultural models”. [64] On the other hand, in spite of their importance, the autonomy and independence of agencies are more often presumed than real and measurable, with the (rare) qualitative attempts at measurement often marred by their excessive formalism. A third criticism concerns the disconnection from historical contexts and environments, both institutional and interorganizational. Choices of agencification ultimately seem to be embedded in bureaucratic universes, and multiple studies have shown that these environments exert a strong influence on the choices of political actors. [65] They also enforce tight institutional constraints. The state is above all a set of segmented organizations which make up a range of institutions, characterized by rules that are costly to challenge, numerous veto actors, and norms and values which influence organizations. These approaches notoriously underestimate the manifold interactions that take place during the fabrication of a new format for the division of labor, and the power struggles – concerning new boundaries and hierarchies – of which these formats are the outcome. Many studies – including some belonging to the same rational choice paradigm – emphasize the extent to which studies on processes of agencification have given too much weight to political forces rather than to internal bureaucratic power plays. [66] In his genealogy of the 1988 Next Steps reform that led to the agencification of ministerial directorates, for example, Oliver James shows that the reformers were not members of the political executive, but groups of high-ranking Whitehall officials, along with consultants whose “bureau-shaping” logic he describes. These officials wished to shore up the autonomy of ministerial departments by transforming them into agencies responsible for the implementation of public policies, the better to dedicate themselves to the more “noble” and properly “political” activities of the design, steering, and control of public policy that put them in contact with political actors. This division of labor led to the delegation of the “dirty work” of the implementation of public policies to specialized organizations. One last criticism relating to studies on agencification is that they overemphasize the issue of delegation and autonomization and neglect to analyze questions of specialization. However, more policy-sector based studies on agencies in the health sector [67] and the economic and banking sphere [68] associate the creation of a dedicated agency primarily with the production of expertise regarding a particular public policy problem. Moreover, a series of recent studies on processes of agencification, beginning with the seminal work by Daniel Carpenter, [69] focus particularly on the crucially important role this specialized expertise plays in the strategies that agencies develop in order to construct and maintain their “reputation” (according to Carpenter, a symbolic belief deliberately cultivated in political actors, ministers, control bodies, interest groups, and the public) for the uniqueness of their abilities, knowledge, obligations, and mission. [70]

The politics of merger policies: a historic turn in search of a theory

33In contrast, works on the mergers of public organizations seem less consistent in their theoretical framing, oscillating between approaches that review a wide series of factors and a consistent historical argument that – according to an implicit functionalist reasoning – sees such factors as a barometer of reaction against the fragmentation brought about by the neo-managerial wave of agencification. The contrast between the explanations put forward for agencification and those put forward for mergers is striking. Whereas the former are highly developed in theoretical terms and place emphasis on the political variables as well as the issue of delegation, the latter instead privilege a far more diverse range of explanations, which, moreover, do not stray far from the justifications given for mergers. A review of the academic literature on mergers confirms this. First, we find numerous case studies which privilege eclectic theoretical frameworks. Karen M. Hult focuses on interorganizational power struggles; [71] Tom Christensen et al. combine a perspective centered on the decision-makers with a culturalist approach that emphasizes institutional oppositions, along with the influence of the environment; [72] Martin Kitchener privileges the construction and diffusion of rational myths and the role of agents of change in the health sector. [73] John Halligan [74] and Glyn Davis et al. identify the combined influence of many factors: the strengthening of control over the governmental apparatus, changes of priority in the orientation of public policy, the need to realize economies of scale by reducing redundant duplication – while indicating that it would be practically impossible to disentangle the rationales at work here:


“It is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to accurately desegregate the motives which inspire any given machinery change [because political leaders] think across categories rather than within the neat boxes necessary for a viable typology of machinery decision.” [75]

35Similarly, Christopher Pollitt identifies six motifs in reorganizations, motifs in which the symbolic dimension is far from absent: to mark a change in the intensity of commitments; to create an impression of reformative dynamism; to adapt to changes in the environment; to make savings; to be more effective or better coordinated; to take charge of new governmental functions and new public policies; and to respond to problems encountered by the political executive. [76] While this profusion of proposed explanations is not in itself problematic, it reflects a primary difficulty: among empirical studies, of which there are many, there are few which precisely describe and gauge the influence of the mechanisms at work in mergers. Rationales are too often identified ex ante and ultimately are little analyzed in context, in their full depth. Such rationales are not the product of universal laws of organizations. Produced within and by social practices, historically inscribed within a certain context, they deserve to be examined in relation to the transformations of the public sphere, the professional and managerial world, and the world of experts and intra-state struggles.

36In any case, the policy behind the decision to merge structures does not seem easy to theorize in a systematic way, nor easy to conceptualize. It is symptomatic, therefore, that some studies prefer to analyze mergers as reflections of wider processes in the transformation of states, their authors emphasizing that they belong to a historical turn: the changing modes of state regulation and the advent of the post-Fordist “Schumpeterian Workfare State” of which Bob Jessop is so fond; [77] a general movement of vertical and horizontal integration; [78] and the emergence of new forms of interministerial cooperation within states, such as the “whole-of-government approach” and “holistic governance”. [79]

37These studies often raise a second difficulty in the form of a paradox. Mergers have long been interpreted without setting their significance in historical context, as ordinary forms for dealing with the division of bureaucratic labor within a framework of the disaggregation and reaggregation of structures. By way of opposition, in the 2000s, as mentioned above, this view of mergers evolved somewhat. For many authors, [80] the “whole-of-government approach” is indeed related to a new politics of state reform which came after the reforms inspired by New Public Management (and was even sometimes constructed in reaction against the latter), and which focuses on new issues: strengthening coordination, attention to cross-cutting public policy problems, governmental integration. Yet, looking more closely, the actual timing of these reorganizations via merger seems to contradict the hypothesis that mergers are reactive in nature. This is the implicit thesis of Martin Kitchener and Linda Gask in their analysis of hospital reforms. Although they confirm the idea of a fashionable organizational model, they are careful not to oppose mergers to neo-managerial reforms, referring instead to “NPM Merger Mania”, and emphasizing the convergence of mergers with neo-managerial instruments: the same borrowings from private-sector recipes; the same focus on cost and staff reduction. [81] Also in the health sector, Richard W. Scott, Martin Ruef et al. analyze mergers as a manifestation of the movement of integration that developed in parallel with the move towards the introduction of market logic and privatization. Analyzing the transformations of the New Zealand state, Martin Lodge and Derek Gill also challenge the idea of a “turn”, emphasizing the continuity of certain themes with the principles of NPM (budget savings) and also raising the point that the fragmentation of the public sector (linked to the development of public institutions and enterprises) came well before the 1980s. [82] On the one hand, then, the processes of specialization/integration seem to constitute a fundamental longstanding movement that has more to do with long-term transformations of the state than with the fits and starts of the reforms of the 1980s-2000s. It is at this scale that we must reflect upon and analyze mergers. But in doing so it is essential, on the other hand, to identify precisely the mechanisms at work – otherwise we risk conferring a universal explanatory power on the idea of a post-NPM turn, something that it cannot possibly possess.

Manipulating the organizational forms of the state: a political sociology of the politics of organization in four dimensions

38The four contributions brought together in this issue have in common their insistence on the importance of political processes in the transformation of the forms of public organizations. However, in distancing ourselves from approaches that propose a simplistic, disembodied vision of politics, here we attempt to restore the density and diversity of political maneuvering and uses associated with the reshaping of state architectures. The latter do not result from the unambiguous rationality of political actors seeking to maximize the credibility of their commitment, or seeking to reduce electoral uncertainty by delegating a policy to an independent organization. In accordance with sociological analyses of public reorganizations, [83] our empirical explorations show, first, that the political rationales at work are more diverse than the politics of structural choice would have us believe, and also that they are embedded in political and bureaucratic fields which lend them a different nature and significance in each case. They also suggest that the reformed organization is not as rationally designed as theories of delegation or integration would have them. A sociology of the politics of organization thus requires that we disentangle the different political mobilizations at work within reorganizations. Equally, it requires us to gauge their effects upon the structures that finally emerge and which, at the heart of the contradictory dynamics that shape them, appear eminently “incomplete”, “imperfect”, and “ambiguous”. Finally, the studies presented in this issue seek to profit from existing studies, but also from their limits. Thus, the contributions discuss processes of specialization without limiting themselves to the movement of agencification alone (Benjamin Lemoine and France Trésor, the agency of public debt) but also taking account of their ordinary forms (in commissariats, Élodie Lemaire). Similarly, they examine reorganizations via mergers, proposing to demonstrate and weigh up the mechanisms through which they are constructed (Philippe Bezes and Patrick Le Lidec), but also reinscribing them within the transformation of the state by integrating them into a more macroscopic perspective (Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland).

The four political dimensions of the politics of organization

39This special issue defends the thesis that the politics of organization are better understood and analyzed when they are situated in the context of the various political commitments that prevail over them and the multiple uses of organizational forms. The politics that runs through the constitutive policies of reorganization is not the product of one single way of thinking. It is bound up in a set of relations (with the electoral field, the bureaucratic apparatus, the clients of public policy, experts and their expertise, etc.) that defines different political issues. Grasping the variety of political investments involved in reorganizations allows us to demonstrate the complexity, the ambiguities, and even the tensions at the heart of the reform of structures, and also to better understand how reform coalitions might cluster around new state architectures.

40Drawing on the theories outlined above and on the various factors identified in the case studies, it is possible, somewhat systematically, to distinguish four logics at work, by comparing two dimensions: the nature of the issues (cognitive or material), and the magnitude of the processes undertaken (limited/confined or broad/publicized). In making this analytical distinction (cf. Table 1), the resulting four types of manipulation of state architectures are not exclusive of one another, but are often co-present. Yet characterizing them in this way allows us to situate political actors in configurations where they are in permanent interaction with other groups: high ranking officials of the different bureaucratic segments concerned; experts seeking to promote an organizational standard; interest groups seeking to influence the choice of structures; the electoral public targeted by the reform, etc.

Table 1

The various forms of the politics of organization

Nature of the issueExtent of political processes
Limited and confinedWide and publicized
Ideal and cognitiveIssues of expertise linked to public policy (Policy)Partisan and symbolic dimension (Politics)
MaterialCompetition and power struggles (Power)Constituent and redistributive dimension between organizations (Governance)

The various forms of the politics of organization

41The first manifestation of politics in reorganizations anchors structural reforms to electoral competition, but conceives of this link on the basis of rationales that are less sophisticated than the high expectations of decision-makers involved in the theory of structural choice. For our first question ought to be about the kind of attention that political leaders pay to reorganizations. That they are undeniably engaged in policies of reorganization, considered as one technique of government among others, tells us nothing about the intensity of their involvement. What is at stake in these reorganizations – which relates to the intricacies of administrations – is, to say the least, of no particular interest to citizens, even if, conversely, it is extremely salient in the eyes of officials and interest groups in direct contact with these administrations. This means that, although there may be something to gain from publicly adopting a reforming approach, in general such matters have little electoral resonance, and will thus not engage elected politicians with overflowing diaries who must choose between numerous more politically visible issues. But this does not mean that the question of competition for power is absent here. Analyzing the creation of ministerial portfolios and the merger of ministries within Whitehall from 1971 to 1984 at a macro level, Christopher Hood, Meg Auby, and Andrew Dunsire, for example, defend the idea that mergers of ministerial portfolios are linked to the well-known model of “court politics”. For them, the creation of a large ministry serves first and foremost to symbolically reward an allied party or person according to their electoral influence or the extent of their support. [84]

42Following on from this argument, Philippe Bezes and Patrick Le Lidec in their contribution to this themed issue show that the reconfiguration of the state’s territorial administrations (ministerial field unit) is strongly linked to the political influence and differential mobilization of ministers. Political heavyweights are therefore key variables when we seek to understand the outcome of a reform. On a different but complementary basis, political commitment to reorganizations can also be interpreted as indicating symbolic reactivity to public policy problems that loom large on the governmental agenda, and/or to issues which public opinion sees as important. The creation of a new entity can be part of a publicity move designed to publicly demonstrate the attention that authorities are paying to a public policy problem, and to attest to the will to “do something”. [85] This symbolic dimension is highlighted by Benjamin Lemoine when he analyzes the creation of the AFT as a political signal addressed to investors and financial markets. Similarly, Élodie Lemaire shows how the creation of small specialized units in police commissariats reflects the hierarchy of legitimate public policy problems and the publicizing of governmental priorities (vehicle offences, domestic violence, etc.). In this case, the reorganizational “stop and go” can be linked to electoral cycles, with each majority in power keen to flag its priorities in the fight against crime through the creation of dedicated structures. The creation of ARS, studied by Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland, also illustrates this demonstrative aspect of public policy. The merger was presented as a response to questions of healthcare, a salient electoral issue in Sarkozy’s presidential campaign: including control of healthcare expenditure, the struggle against medical deserts, and improvement of access to care. Moreover, the political weight of the health minister Roselyne Bachelot influenced the adoption of a reorganization over which she kept firm control, to the point of detaching it from the structure of the RGPP. In all these cases, the politics of organization carries a strong symbolic dimension that can be analyzed in terms of the construction of images and signals addressed to “public opinion” in general, or to more specific sections of the public.

43The second way in which politics is implicated in reorganizations relates to what we might call the politics of governance. Reorganizations can be analyzed, as we have said, as constituent policies. For Harold Seidman, changes in administrative structures constitute “an instrument of politics, position and power”. [86] Decisions in matters of the division of labor and the transformations of the administrative boundaries that they bring about have powerful redistributive effects on authority and power. They change the position of organizations within administrative systems, transform hierarchical chains and the distribution of responsibilities, justify the appointment of new directors, and influence both the circulation of information and the modes of coordination and control. [87] In so doing, they modify the way in which political power is exercised.

44Élodie Lemaire demonstrates this in her study of the process of specialization in the French police force. The proliferation of specialized units both reflects and affects the way in which the police are governed. Their creation is a way for commissaries not only to prove their political loyalty, but also to govern differently within the commissariat: dedicated brigades reduce the autonomy of police officers and enable greater control over them by segmenting their activity into small domains that are more easily measurable and thus controllable. The issue of control is also at the heart of Benjamin Lemoine’s contribution on debt management. Controversies over the correct “distance from politics” in the choice of “design” for the AFT reflected the importance of the questions of steering and control. The process of the Agency’s creation was shot through by expectations and conflicts around the prospective political governance of the organization according to the institutional rules (and its greater or lesser proximity to the Ministry of Finance) that would define it, as was the degree of marketization of the practices and norms of debt management. Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland’s article on the creation of the ARS places the question of the redistribution of the power and regulation of the French “health system” at the heart of this reorganization via merger. Although a consensus emerged on the project of the creation of the ARS, the different visions of the modes of “integration” maintained by the many actors involved (professionals, administrators and politicians belonging to the state, health insurance, and private associations and doctors) found themselves in competition over the “definition of good sectorial government” and the forms of professionalism that should prevail within it. The reform of the territorial administration of the state raises comparable issues. In their contribution, Philippe Bezes and Patrick Le Lidec emphasize the importance of rivalries over the control of the territorial services of the state, an important concern in the merger of devolved services at the regional and departmental level. The originality of this article here is that, whilst numerous studies emphasize questions of reward, leading those in power to add more and more organizations and tiers in order to distribute more positions, political actors may also have an interest in drastically reducing the number of their interlocutors such that politicians can achieve a real grip on public policy through repeated interactions with a small number of high ranking officials. The merger serves to “pyramidize” the organization, as it offers the executive power the benefit of tighter control and a rationalized hierarchy centered on a smaller number of trusted collaborators.

45Third, politics is present in that the actual issues of public policies are, of course, not absent from the motives that drive reorganizations. Initially difficult to discern, exploratory empirical work needs to be undertaken in order to identify them. Such investigation is all the more important in that the literature on the politics of structural choice has rather neglected the dimension of policy in its characterization of politics. For the focus placed on organizational formats leads one to pay more attention to the rules, reallocations, and institutional arrangements than to the substance of the policies embedded in organizations. The interest of a political sociology perspective here is that it encourages us to explore them and bring them to light. Certain studies are useful in the exploration of this dimension. In articles dedicated to the creation of mega-ministries in Australia [88] and to reorganizations in the so-called Westminster systems (Great Britain, Canada, Australia), [89] the authors bring to light one of three ways in which political influence is exerted over structural reorganizations. Modification of the division of labor allows for the rehierarchization of the priorities of public policy by redistributing power and encouraging a challenge to the organization of clienteles. The intervention into the division of labor thus also doubles as a more or less discreet choice of policy direction. In their work on the creation of health safety agencies (the Établissement français de greffes and the Agence nationale d’accreditation et d’évaluation en santé), Daniel Benamouzig and Julien Besançon show that their emergence in France corresponds to a resumption of control by the central administration of activities which up until this point were delegated to private or third-sector actors. This strengthening of the presence of the state via agencification also brings with it new knowledge and a new vision of public policy, thus expressing jurisdictional shifts and conflicts. For François Buton and Frédéric Pierru, the establishment of new agencies has permitted the importation (initially to the margins of the state) and subsequent institutionalization and bureaucratization of an originally North American discipline of government: applied epidemiology, rather frowned upon by the central administration. [90] On a related subject, in studies of the creation of the Agences de sécurité sanitaire des aliments (SSA) in France and the Food Standards Agency in Great Britain, Thomas Alam shows how the SSA sector was historically a subsector of food policy, maintained by a configuration of “weak” actors and institutions and housed within the Ministry of Agriculture. [91] When the mad cow disease crisis broke out, the entrepreneurs of the Health Ministry, the “Kouchner boys” (Martin Hirsch and Dider Tabuteau), used the crisis of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitus (BSE) as a resource to subvert existing power relations, shifting jurisdictions and reorienting public policy. The creation of the AFSSA in 1998, under the co-supervision of the Ministry of Health, marked a reorientation of the politics of health safety, now reformulated in terms which give more prominence to consumer associations and health professionals. Similarly, mergers can serve as a vehicle for the orientation of policies. In his exploration of the creation of the Ministry of Labour and Pensions through the merger of the UK Employment Service and Benefits Agency, Jay Wiggan shows clearly how this transformation was part of a neoliberal strategy to reorient employment and social security policy. It was designed to promote the introduction of logics of “activation” on the labor market, targeted at traditional job seekers and economically inactive users of social security services. [92] Reorganizations not only affect the way in which public policies are conceived and implemented, they also shape their objectives and instruments by imposing new categorizations of the organization of labor, the distribution of tasks, the fields of expertise to mobilize, and the professions to be promoted or legitimated.

46Each contribution to this issue illustrates the importance of the issues of public policy embedded in structural reforms. Benjamin Lemoine shows how the creation of the AFT affected the content of the policy for the issuance of debt, steering it toward a certain financial orthodoxy and a focus on the liquidity of debt, just as it enduringly established a normalized relationship between the state and the financial markets via the mediation of the AFT technicians. For Élodie Lemaire, specialization is also associated with the belief in the effectiveness of small brigades to target ever more differentiated crimes (discrimination, violent robbery, etc.). For their part, Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland associate the dynamic of integration and the creation of the ARS with two significant reorientations in health policy: the rise of a management conception of health policy centered around the notion of “risk management”, but also the valorization of certain medical specialties (biomedicine and epidemiology) more compatible than others with the dynamic of integration and with the two categorizations of the system implicit within it: an industrial rationalization and an emphasis on the continuity of care beyond the system. The specific issues of sector-based public policies are not as prominent in Philippe Bezes and Patrick Le Lidec’s article, since the reform via merger of the territorial administration of the state is primarily, in terms of its agenda, a constituent and transversal policy of administrative reform. As such, it does, however, express a significant reorientation of the content of reform policies, in shifting priority back to questions of integration, interministerial transversality, and coordination in relation to prior neo-managerial dynamics linked to the Loi organique relative aux lois de finances (LOLF) which reinforced ministerial silos and distilled a discreet form of agencification. [93] What is more, the new regional organizations created by merger (the Direction régionale de l’environnement, de l’aménagement et du logement [DREAL], the Direction régionale des entreprises, de la concurrence et de la consommation, du travail et de l’emploi [DIRECCTE], etc.) are, like the ARS, criss-crossed by public policy issues, in a certain sense “encapsulated” in the negotiations over the new frontiers of the territorial state. The DREALs are certainly the local manifestation of the project of the broad Ministry for Sustainable Development, an ambiguous and plurivocal notion but one that emphasizes the political will to take into account new environmental questions (climate change, biodiversity, carbon tax) that require going beyond the compartmentalized sector-based administrations that would traditionally compete with one another over these matters (infrastructure, ecology, industry). [94] Their creation reflects these priorities, even if it obviously does not mean that the many public policies which occupy these entities will all be reoriented. [95]

47The final dimension of the politics of organization is certainly the most classical. It relates to the power struggles and jurisdictional battles that constitute the heart of ordinary bureaucratic operations. Described by James Q. Wilson as “turf wars” [96] between bureaucratic segments, they form the weave of what Graham T. Allison calls “bureaucratic politics”, within a state viewed as a “conglomerate of large organizations and political actors which differ considerably as to what the government should do”. [97] Accordingly, to intervene in the division of labor in state bureaucracies – that is to say, to shift the formal boundaries of organizations – can only exacerbate phenomena of competition and jurisdictional struggles between component bodies, given the multiple effects of such restructuring: effects on the dependency of administrative organizations upon their environment, on the position that they occupy in hierarchies, on the identities of their agents, etc. What some sociologists have called “institutional work” [98] is thus, when applied here to the politics organization, inseparable from “boundary work”. [99] From this perspective, the processes that accentuate specialization (agencification) and those that favor integration (mergers) generate different power struggles. It is easier to specialize than to merge because of the opposite effects these reforms have on the market of top positions. Even if it brings about a discreet devaluing of certain jobs, the segmentation of organizations is easier in practice since it broadens the market of top managerial positions. Conversely, mergers force a reduction in and a re-evaluation of top managerial positions, making competition more acute between individual and collective actors (in the French context, between corps in particular). Élodie Lemaire’s article illustrates the relative ease with which a policy of specialization can be implemented, in this case an increase in specialized brigades in the police commissariats. She writes that “specialization is a form of positive capital in terms of police prestige”, for the small units allow individuals to escape the generalist model and to move up into investigative services and activities hitherto reserved for senior officers. Similarly, Benjamin Lemoine shows the extent to which the specialization of the debt service together with the absence of any real separation of the agency from the state apparatus was presented as a “modernization” to be “credited” to the state, and which the high-ranking officials of the agency supported all the more strongly because the designation “agency” improved their performance in the public sale of loans while maintaining, or even strengthening, their internal political capacities.

48However, a section of the literature on mergers and the establishment of coordinative structures emphasizes the difficulties associated with them. These transformations provoke quite intense interorganizational power struggles for control [100] because they affect many dimensions: the degree of integration between the units merged and the hierarchical tiers, the nature of interdependencies between these units (vertical and/or horizontal) and their symmetry, the degree and nature of internal conflicts, the “status” of the merged services which are reevaluated, the new connections that are made, the environment and client networks, etc. The denser the institutional field, the more the remodeling of outlines and boundaries fuels conflicts and the defense of territory: the constitutive negotiations of “bureaucratic politics” really come to the fore. [101] In this regard, Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland bring to light the struggles between two competing conceptions of the ARS: state versus health insurance, one political and decentralized, the other technocratic and centralized. The REATE (la réforme de l'administration territoriale de l'État), as analyzed by Philippe Bezes and Patrick Le Lidec, corresponds to an archetypal case of mergers with very high institutional density, insofar as there are numerous ministries concerned, all with a historical territorial anchorage, at variable levels and degrees of institutionalization depending on their age. When it is the case not of one merger but a series of pairings between many bodies, the numerous power struggles – to defend existing boundaries or to obtain new divisions in which position and autonomy may be preserved – entail multiple transactions and bargains.

The institutional embedding of the politics of organization

49The set of contributions in this issue emphasize the different political dimensions of what we have called the politics of organization, depending on the use that those in power make of organizational formats and the way in which these formats constitute both resources and constraints for them. The four contributions share another point of view, however. The transformations of the division of labor constitute organizational phenomena that are fascinating to study, as long as we do so “in context”, setting them within the institutional dynamics – political, administrative, professional, and social – that traverse them, shape them and endow them with meaning. In other words, reorganizations and the political commitments that underpin them do not occur in an institutional void. They operate within institutional realms, which constitute a repository for ways of perceiving the organization (through its categories, symbols, ideologies, modes of functioning, etc.) and its structure (norms, resources, a certain distribution of power, veto points, etc.). Conversely, these realms constrain reorganization enterprises by favoring, or on the contrary curbing – but in any case, influencing – initiatives for structural transformation.

50This essentially classic institutionalist dimension evidently raises the question of change. What challenges do the new divisions of labor pose? To what extent do they express or reproduce the weight of existing power relations, or of historical administrative institutions? To what extent do they shift the equilibriums of power stabilized in former periods? Is the creation of the ARS a total transformation of the organization of the French health system? By replacing the prefect at the center of the system, isn’t the new organization of the territorial state a reactivation of an old historical logic? Does the creation of the AFT radically challenge French ways of financing debt? Do specialized police brigades in the commissariats constitute a classical mode of police organization or do they express an unprecedented contemporary development? Each of the contributions to this issue proposes a reflection on the import and the limits of the transformations that affect a particular segment of the French administration. Benjamin Lemoine emphasizes the weight of the French administrative configuration in the appropriation of the “debt agency” organizational standard and in the specific French calibration of the “distance from politics”. Similarly, Élodie Lemaire underlines the contemporary specificity of specialization in the commissariats, linking the development to performance-based neo-managerial reforms taking place elsewhere. Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland demonstrate the limits of the process of integration that they study, suggesting that certain levels of administration are more exposed and less resistant to reorganizations than others; while Philippe Bezes and Patrick Le Lidec explore the conditions and limits of the institutional change of the French territorial state, one that is particularly dense and well-defended.

51More broadly speaking, the four contributions reflect the embedded or integrated nature of the forms of division of labor within state institutions. The sociology of the politics of the division of labor proposed by this issue reveals the extent to which administrative architectures are totally interdependent with numerous other structurations of public organizations, such as the orientations and objectives that emanate from the political system and national reforms instigated by those in power; political hierarchies and forms of loyalty; public policies that inform the activity of structures; the groupings that make up public administrations (institutions, professional groups, etc.) but also the realm of positions, mobility, and careers which these architectures in part define. Formalising state structures (investissements de forme) means interacting with many other practices, meanings, ideals, and interests. In short, organization (the division of tasks, functions, and boundaries) is immersed in the different components (political, professional, social) of the institution.

52This embedding can be seen in at least two points common to the different contributions. First, the historical perspective is a decisive factor in terms of situating the reorganizations studied here within long-term institutional change. This includes the slow process of the integration of the health system or of the transformation of the territorial state in France; the historical process of the marketization of French debt; the long timescale of police reform and the transformations of police management since the 1980s. The interwoven nature of many dynamics within the politics of organization, which reflects the reality of a multi-layered institutional complex, is the second property common to the contributions.

53Élodie Lemaire shows clearly that the reforms that led to the creation of specialized police units cannot be analyzed independently of the effects of the reform of institutions and careers, nor of the transformation of the hierarchy of public policy problems that resulted from the circulation of a new security doctrine, these three dimensions being tightly bound up together. In the same way, Benjamin Lemoine emphasizes how the establishment of the AFT must be seen to lie at the crossroads between international reconfigurations (in the context of an internationalization of economies, of increased competition to attract capital when the management of debt had already been outsourced to agencies in many countries in accordance with the orientation advocated by international organizations), transnational circulations of organizational standards (the agency form), and in a particular national configuration marked by the specific influence and will of the Treasury directorate to keep this activity within its purview. Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland also highlight the embedded nature of processes of reorganization, the creation of the ARS having been literally shaped by competition between organizations (the state versus health insurance) and by the multiple dynamics (particularly professional, but also bureaucratic) that structure the healthcare field. Finally, the contribution of Philippe Bezes and Patrick Le Lidec places organizational change at the crossroads of four mechanisms: mechanisms that are external to the administration, such as the diffusion of ideas and the way in which they are appropriated by the political elite; mechanisms internal to the administration; changes in organizational form advocated by institutional entrepreneurs with reforming agendas; and changes that are shaped by jurisdictional struggles and negotiation between institutions. [102]

The English version of this article is published with the support of the CNRS


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    Christopher Hood, The Tools of Government (London: Chatham House, 1986).
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    Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Power and the Division of Labor (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1986); Morton Egeberg, “The impact of bureaucratic structure on policy making”, Public Administration, 77(1), 1999, 155-70.
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    Theodore J. Lowi, “Four systems of policy, politics and choice”, Public Administration Review, 323, 1972, 298-310. Philippe Bezes and Odile Join-Lambert, special issue “Comment se font les administrations? Analyser des actes administratifs constituants”, Sociologie du travail, 2, 2010.
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    The content of this issue is drawn from the collective project MUTORG-ADMI (Les mutations organisationnelles de l’administration française: hiérarchies, division du travail et coordination [Organizational Changes in the French Administration: Hierarchies, Division of Labor, and Coordination]) funded by the Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR 08-GOUV-040).
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    Daniel Treisman, The Architecture of Government: rethinking political decentralization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007); Daniel Brancati, Peace by Design: managing intrastate conflict through decentralization (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
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    John Meligrana (ed.), Redrawing Local Government Boundaries: an international study of politics, procedures and decisions (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2004); Harald Baldersheim and Laurence Rose (eds), Territorial Choice: the politics of boundaries and borders (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
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    Alfred Chandler, Strategy and Structure: chapters in the history of industrial enterprise (Cambridge, MIT Press, 1962); Paul R. Lawrence and Jay W. Lorsch, “Differentiation and integration in complex organizations”, Administration Science Quarterly, 12(1), 1967, 1-47; Paul M. Hirsch and Michaela De Soucey, “Organizational restructuring and its consequences: rhetorical and structural”, Annual Review of Sociology, 32, 2006, 171-89.
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    Gilles Pinson, “Gouvernance et sociologie de l’action organisée: action publique, coordination et théorie de l’État”, L’Année sociologique, 65(2), 2015, 483-516.
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    Max Weber, “Chapter XI: Bureaucracy” in Economy and Society, vol. 2, 956-1005; Martin Schefter, Political Parties and the State: The American historical experience (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).
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    Rueschemeyer, Power and the Division of Labor, 3.
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    Bertrand Badie and Pierre Birnbaum, Sociologie de l’État (Paris: Grasset, 1979).
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    For an overview of this tendency, see Tom Christensen, Per Lægreid, Paul G. Roness, and Kjell Arne Rovik, Organization Theory and the Public Sector: Instrument, Culture and Myth (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007), 20-36; M. Egeberg, “The impact of bureaucratic structure”; Koen Verhoest, Geert Bouckaert, and B. Guy Peters, “Janusfaced reorganisation: specialization and coordination in four OECD Countries in the period 1980-2005”, International Review of Administrative Sciences, 73(3), 2007, 325-48.
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    Christopher Hood and Andrew Dunsire, Bureaumetrics. The Quantitative Comparison of British Central Government Agencies (Farnborough: Gower, 1981); Christopher Hood, Meg Huby, and Andrew Dunsire, “Scale economies and iron laws: mergers and demergers in Whitehall”, Journal of Public Administration, 63, 1985, 61-78; Pollitt, Manipulating the Machine.
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    The arguments below are set out in full in Philippe Bezes, “Les rationalisations des bureaucraties: perspectives wébériennes sur la nouvelle gestion publique”, habilitation thesis, Sciences Po Paris, 2014.
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    John W. Meyer and Brian Rowan, “Institutionalized organizations: formal structure as myth and ceremony”, American Journal of Sociology, 83(2), 1977, 340-63.
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    John W. Meyer, Gili S. Drori, Hokyu Hwang, “World society and the proliferation of formal organizations” in Gili S. Drori, John W. Meyer, Hokyu Hwang (eds), Globalization and Organization. World society and organizational change (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 25-49.
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    Paul DiMaggio and Walter W. Powell, “The iron cage revisited: institutionalized isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields”, American Sociological Review, 48(2), 1983, 147-60.
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    Herbert Kaufman, The Limits of Organizational Change (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1971); Peter Szanton, Federal Reorganization: what have we learned? (London: Chatham House, 1981).
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    C. Hood et al., “Scale economies and iron laws”.
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    Pollitt, Manipulating the Machine; Glyn Davis, Patrick Weller, Emma Craswell, and Susan Eggins, “What drives machinery of government change? Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom (1950-1997)”, Public Administration, 77(1), 1999, 7-50 (43).
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    James March and Johan P. Olsen, Rediscovering Institutions. The organizational basis of politics (New York: The Free Press, 1989), 69-94; C. Hood et al., “Scale economies and iron laws”; Colin Talbot and Carole Johnson, “Seasonal cycles in public management: disaggregation and re-aggregation”, Public Money & Management, 27(1), 2007, 53-60; Anne White and Patrick Dunleavy, Making and Breaking Whitehall Departments: a guide to machinery of government changes (London: Institute for Government, LSE Public Policy Group, 2010).
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    Hood, The Tools of Government. The other three are the production and manipulation of information, authority (the legal power to authorize by sanctioning and prohibiting), and finance (the way in which governments tax and spend).
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    March and Olsen, Rediscovering Institutions, 76.
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    Matthew A. Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg, Downsizing Democracy (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 87.
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    Stephen Skowronek and Karen Orren, The Policy State: a developmental synthesis (American Political Science Association, 2011, unpublished). For a discussion of this concept, see King and Le Galès, “Sociologie de l’État en recomposition”.
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    Christopher Pollitt and Colin Talbot, Unbundled Government: a critical analysis of the global trend to agencies, quangos and contractualisation (Abingdon: Routledge, 2004); Christopher Pollitt, Colin Talbot, Janice Caulfield, and Amanda Smullen, Agencies: how governments do things through semi-autonomous organizations (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004); Sandra Van Thiel, “Trends in the public sector: why politicians prefer quasiautonomous organizations”, Journal of Theoretical Politics, 16(2), 2004, 175-201; Tom Christensen and Per Lægreid (eds), Autonomy and Regulation: coping with agencies in the modern state (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2006); Fabrizio Gilardi, Delegation in the Regulatory State: independent regulatory agencies in Western Europe (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2008); Koen Verhoest, Sandra Van Thiel, Geert Bouckaert, and Per Lægreid (eds), Agencies: practices and lessons from 30 countries (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
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    Carsten Greve, Matthew Flinders, and Sandra Van Thiel, “Quangos: what’s in a name? Defining quangos from a comparative perspective”, Governance, 12(2), 1999, 129-46; Oliver James and Sandra van Thiel, “Structural devolution and agencification” in Tom Christensen, Per Lægreid (eds), Ashgate Research Companion to New Public Management (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011), 209-22; Conseil d’État, Les agences. Une nouvelle gestion publique? Étude annuelle 2012 (Paris: La Documentation française, 2012).
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    Greve et al., “Quangos”.
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    Oliver James, The Executive Agency Revolution in Whitehall (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003).
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    Fabrizio Gilardi, “The institutional foundations of regulatory capitalism: the diffusion of independent regulatory agencies in Western Europe”, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 598(1), 2005, 84-101; Gilardi, Delegation in the Regulatory State.
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    Giandomenico Majone, “The rise of regulatory state in Europe”, West European Politics, 17, 1994, 77-101; Michael Moran, “The rise of the regulatory state in Britain”, Parliamentary Affairs, 54, 2001, 19-34.Online
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    David Levi-Faur, “The global diffusion of regulatory capitalism”, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 598(1), 2005, 12-32.
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    Conseil d’État, Les agences; Patrick Dunleavy, Democracy, Bureaucracy and Public Choice (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), 183-94.
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    Christopher Hood, “A public management for all seasons?”, Public Administration, 69(1), 1991, 3-19; Patrick Dunleavy, “From old public administration to new public management”, Public Money & Management, 14(3), 1994, 9-16.
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    Finn Kydland and Edward Prescott, “Rules rather than discretion: the inconsistency of optimal plans”, Journal of Political Economy, 85, 1977, 473-90.
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    Alasdair Roberts, The Logic of Discipline: global capitalism and the architecture of government (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).
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    Christopher Pollitt, “Joined-up government: a survey”, Political Studies Review, 1(1), 2003, 34-49; Tom Christensen and Per Lægreid, “The whole-of-government approach to public sector reform”, Public Administration Review, 67(6), 2007, 1057-64.
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    Christensen and Lægreid, “The whole-of-government approach”; Perri 6, Diana Leat, Kimberly Seltzer, Gerry Stoker, Towards Holistic Governance: the new reform agenda (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002); Vernon Bogdanor (ed.), Joined-up Government (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
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    Herman Bakvis and Luc Juillet, The Horizontal Challenge: line departments, central agencies and leadership (Ottawa: Canada School of Public Service, 2004).
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    Martin Kitchener, “Mobilizing the logic of managerialism in professional fields: the case of academic health center mergers”, Organization Studies, 23(3), 2002, 391-420.
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    Tom Christensen, Anne Lise Fimreite, Per Lægreid, “Reform of the employment and welfare administrations: the challenges of co-ordinating diverse public organizations”, International Review of Administrative Sciences, 73, 2007, 389-408.
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    Christensen and Lægreid, “The whole-of-government approach”.
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    Hood et al., “Scale economies and iron laws”; Kitchener and Gask, “NPM merger mania”.
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    Terry M. Moe, “The politics of bureaucratic structure” in John E. Chubb, Paul E. Peterson (eds), Can the Government Govern? (Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1989), 267-329; and “The politics of structural choice: toward a theory of public bureaucracy” in Oliver E. Williamson (ed.), Organization Theory: From Chester Barnard to the Present and Beyond (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 116-53.
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    John D. Huber and Charles R. Shipan, Deliberate Discretion? The institutional foundations of bureaucratic autonomy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); David E. Lewis, Presidents and the Politics of Agency Design: political insulation in the United States government bureaucracy, 1946-1997 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003).
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    Gary J. Miller, “Above politics: credible commitment and efficiency in the design of public agencies”, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 10(2), 2000, 289-328; Gary J. Miller, Andrew B. Whitford, Above Politics: bureaucratic discretion and credible commitment (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).
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    Giandomenico Majone, “Independent agencies and the delegation problem: theoretical and normative dimensions” in Bernard Steuenberg and Frans van Vught (eds), Political Institutions and Public Policy (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997), 57-78.
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    Fabrizio Gilardi, “Policy credibility and delegation to independent regulatory agencies: a comparative empirical analysis”, Journal of European Public Policy, 9(6), 2002, 873-93; Jorgen G. Christensen, Kutsal Yesilkagit, “Delegation and specialization in regulatory administration: a comparative analysis of Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands” in Christensen and Lægreid (eds), Autonomy and Regulation, 203-34.
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    Frank Dobbin, “Cultural models of organization: the social construction of rational organizing principles” in Diana Crane, The Sociology of Culture: emerging theoretical perspectives (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), 117-41.
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    Here we are thinking, of course, of the studies on “bureaucratic politics” instigated by the seminal work of Graham T. Allison, Essence of Decision: explaining the Cuban missile crisis (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1971).
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    George A. Krause and Kenneth J. Meier, “The scientific study of bureaucracy: an overview” in George A. Krause and Kenneth J. Meier (eds), Politics, Policy, and Organizations: frontiers in the scientific study of bureaucracy (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2003), 15; Amy B. Zegart, Flawed by Design: the evolution of the CIA, JCS and NSC (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999).
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    Daniel Benamouzig and Julien Besançon, “Administrer un monde incertain: les nouvelles bureaucraties techniques. Le cas des agences sanitaires en France”, Sociologie du travail, 47(3), 2005, 301-22.
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    Martin Marcussen “Institutional transformation? The scientization of central banking as a case study” in Christensen and Lægreid (eds), Autonomy and Regulation, 81-109.
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    Daniel Carpenter, Reputation and Power: organizational image and pharmaceutical regulation at the FDA (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010).
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    Moshe Maor, “A scientific standard and an agency’s legal independence: which of these reputation protection mechanisms is less susceptible to political moves?”, Public Administration, 85(4), 2007, 961-78.
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    Karen Hult, Agency Merger and Bureaucratic Redesign (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987).
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    Christensen et al., “Reform of the employment and welfare administrations”.
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    Kitchener, “Mobilizing the logic of managerialism”.
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    John Halligan, “Reorganising Australian government departments 1987”, Canberra Bulletin of Public Administration, 52, 1987, 40-7, and “Coordination of welfare through a large integrated organization: the Australian Department of Human Services”, Public Management Review, 17(7), 2015, 1002-20.
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    Davis et al., “What drives the machinery”.
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    Pollitt, Manipulating the machine, 128.
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    Wiggan, “Reforming the United Kingdom’s public employment”.
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    This analysis has been proposed in the domain of healthcare: see Robert G. Evans, “Incomplete vertical integration in the health care industry: pseudomarkets and pseudopolicies”, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 468, 1983, 60-87; W. Richard Scott, Martin Ruef, Peter J. Mendel, and Carol A. Caronna, Institutional Change and Healthcare Organizations: from professional dominance to managed care (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). See also the article in this issue by Frédéric Pierru and Christine Rolland.
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    Pollitt, “Joined-up government”; Christensen and Lægreid, “The whole-of-government approach”; Perri 6 et al., Towards Holistic Governance.
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    Christensen and Lægreid, “The whole-of-government approach”; Pollitt, “Joined-up government”.
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    Kitchener and Gask, “NPM Merger Mania”; Kitchener, “Mobilizing the logic of managerialism”.
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    Martin Lodge and Derek Gill, “Toward a new era of administrative reform? The myth of post-NPM in New Zealand”, Governance, 24(1), 2011, 141-66.
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    Nils Brunsson and Johan P. Olsen, The Reforming Organization (Abingdon: Routledge, 1993); Musselin and Dif-Pradalier, “Quand la fusion s’impose”.
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    Kitchener and Gask, “NPM Merger Mania”; Kitchener, “Mobilizing the logic of managerialism”.
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    Brandice Cane-Wrone, “Administrative politics and the public presidency”, Presidential Studies Quarterly, 39(1), 2009, 25-37.
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    Harold Seidman, Politics, Position and Power: the dynamics of federal organization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975).
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    James D. Thompson, Organizations in Action (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967); M. Egeberg, “The impact of bureaucratic structure”.
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    John Halligan, “Reorganising Australian government departments 1987”, Canberra Bulletin of Public Administration, 52, 1987, 40-7.
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    Davis et al., “What drives the machinery”.
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    François Buton and Frédéric Pierru, “Instituer la police des risques sanitaires: mise en circulation de l’épidémiologie appliquée et agencification de l’État sanitaire”, Gouvernement et action publique, 4, 2012, 67-90.
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    Thomas Alam, “La vache folle et les vétérinaires: récit d’une victoire inattendue et paradoxale sur le terrain de la sécurité sanitaire des aliments”, Revue d’études en agriculture et environnement, 90(4), 2010, 373-98.
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    Wiggan, “Reforming the United Kingdom’s public employment and social security agencies”.
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    Dominique Linhardt and Fabian Muniesa, “Du ministère à l’agence: étude d’un processus d’altération politique”, Politix, 23(95), 2011, 73-102.
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    Pierre Lascoumes, Laure Bonnaud, Jean-Pierre Le Bourhis, and Emmanuel Martinais, Le développement durable, nouvelle affaire d’État (Paris: PUF, 2014).
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    On this point, see Lascoumes et al., Le développement durable, 161-75; and François-Mathieu Poupeau, “L’émergence d’un État régional pilote. La recomposition des jeux administratifs autour du ministère de l’Écologie et du Développement durable dans une région française”, Gouvernement & action publique, 2(2), 2013, 249-77.
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    James Q. Wilson, Bureaucracy: what government agencies do and why they do it (New York: Basic Books, 1989).
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    Graham T. Allison and Morton H. Halperin, “Bureaucratic politics: a paradigm and some policy implications”, World Politics, 24, 1972, 40-79 (43); Allison, Essence of Decision.
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    Lawrence et al. (eds), Institutional Work.
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    Thompson, Organizations in Action; Filipe M. Santos and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, “Organizational boundaries and theories of organization”, Organization Science, 16(5), 2005, 491-508; Zietsma and Lawrence, “Institutional work”.
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    Hult, Agency Merger, 13-32.
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    Allison and Halperin, “Bureaucratic politics”.
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    The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers of the journal for their suggestions and their stimulating comments, and the contributors to this issue for the rich exchanges on the articles included and on this introduction.

This article explores how those who govern have repeatedly modified the boundaries of public bureaucracies and the division of labour within the state since the early 1980s, either by creating agencies or by promoting mergers. This transformation of the organizational forms of the state is here considered as an original and rationalized technique of governmentality through which politicians, senior civil servants, and experts try to intervene on the specialization of tasks, the distribution of power, and public policies. The article first offers a broad review of the literature on agencification and mergers, and a critique of the main theories analyzing these processes. It defends a political sociology approach that emphasizes four intertwined dimensions of the politics of organization and its manipulation of state architectures.

Philippe Bezes
Philippe Bezes is CNRS Research Professor at the Centre d’études européennes de Sciences Po Paris (CNRS-UMR 8239). Together with Patrick Le Lidec, he directed the project MUTORG-ADMI (Les mutations organisationelles de l’administration française: hiérarchies, division du travail et coordination), funded by the Agence national de la recherche (ANR) within the framework of the program “Gouverner et administrer”. He is author of Réinventer l’État. Les réformes de l’administration française (1962–2008) (Paris: PUF, 2009), and co-editor (with Gerhard Hammerschmid, Steven Van de Walle, and Rhys Andrews) of Public Administration Reforms in Europe: The View from the Top (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2016). His research focuses on the historical sociology of the politics of administrative and state reform and on the analysis of the process of transformation of public bureaucracies in France from a comparative perspective. (Centre d’études européennes, Sciences Po, 28 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris).
Patrick Le Lidec
Patrick Le Lidec is a CNRS Senior Research Fellow at the Centre d’études européennes de Sciences Po Paris (CNRS-UMR 8239). With Philipp Bezes he co-directed the project MUTORG-ADMI (Les mutations organisationelles de l’administration française: hiérarchies, division du travail et coordination), funded by the Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR) within the framework of the program “Gouverner et administrer.” He is also a member of the Comité pour l’histoire préfectorale auprès du ministère de l’Intérieur. He has recently published (with Didier Demazière) Les mondes du travail politique. Sociologie des élus et de leurs entourages (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2014). He is particularly interested in the transformations of the territorial architecture of local government. Centre d’études européennes, Sciences Po, 28 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris.
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