CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Emergency and professional overflow are elements of managers’ daily lives (Mintzberg, 1984), probably even more so today with the acceleration brought about by information technology. Emergency has become an essential contingency of the business environment (Lawrence & Lorsh, 1973) to which organisational management is constantly seeking new responses.
The word emergency comes from the medieval Latin emergentia, from Latin emergere ‘arise, brought to light’, i.e. exerting pressure on something or someone through a conscious or unconscious action, demand or expectation. Therefore, the notion of pressure is also joined by the notion of the need to face this pressure or at least to take it into consideration. The feeling of emergency arises from the pressure and constraint exerted by a situation, a given context, or by an individual or a group of individuals on one or more other individuals (Nomblot & Thomas, 2009).
In organisations, emergency management involves taking exceptional and rapid action to prevent an unfavourable scenario from unfolding (losing a customer, not meeting a response deadline) or to remedy a critical situation (disrupting a production or logistics process) (Jaureguiberry, 2003). For Canetti et al. (2013), an emergency in a company is a situation with a real risk within a short timeframe. Emergencies and their management methods in hospitals are an allegorical figure of this need for reactivity in the face of an exceptional situation to which managers and staff in all organisations are now regularly subjected…


In the literature, emergency management has been developed mainly to respond to disasters. It is based on the definition and implementation of an organisation to respond to a specific emergency. As emergency management becomes a permanent management situation in organisations, it may be interesting to analyse the managerial thinking and organisational modes that are able to deal with an emergency on an ongoing basis.
This article examines whether it is possible to describe some modalities of a permanent emergency management, applicable in organisations. As military management is often characterised by a permanent level of emergency, especially in times of war, we attempt to approach the modes of organisation and administration that Napoleon Bonaparte adopted during his main military campaigns. We apply a method of historical analysis of the main works and writings dealing with events and Napoleonic military organisation under the Directoire (1795–1799), the Consulate and the Empire (1799–1815).
The description and managerial analysis of Napoleon’s military organisation during this period allows us to highlight a certain coherence and continuity in the management of emergencies, applied by Napoleon, which can inspire managers in their daily management. Our main results thus highlight a little-known but fertile managerial thought as well as the means of action adapted to this thought, which make anticipation a dynamic and catalyzing principle of Napoleonic emergency management.

  • management emergency
  • emergency management
  • managerial thinking
  • historical method
  • Napoleon

Le management de l’urgence dans les organisations ? Les réponses apportées par Napoléon Bonaparte

Dans la littérature, le management d’urgence (emergency management) a été essentiellement développé afin de répondre à des catastrophes. Il repose sur la définition et la mise en œuvre d’une organisation spécifique permettant de répondre à une situation de crise. Alors que l’urgence devient une situation de gestion permanente dans les organisations, il peut être intéressant d’analyser les pensées managériales et les modes d’organisation en mesure d’y faire face de manière continue. Comme il en existe pour les situations de crise ponctuelles, est-il possible de décrire certaines modalités d’un management (permanent) de l’urgence, applicables dans les organisations ? Pour répondre à cette question de recherche, le management militaire se caractérisant souvent par un niveau d’urgence permanent, notamment en temps de guerre, nous tentons d’approcher les modes d’organisation et d’administration que Napoléon Bonaparte adopte lors de ses principales campagnes militaires. Nous appliquons une méthode d’analyse historique des principaux ouvrages et écrits traitant des évènements et de l’organisation militaire napoléonienne sous le Directoire (1795-1799), le Consulat et l’Empire (1799-1815).
La description et l’analyse managériale de l’organisation militaire napoléonienne durant cette période nous permettent de mettre en lumière une certaine cohérence et une continuité de gestion, appliquées par Napoléon, qui peuvent inspirer les gestionnaires dans leur management quotidien de l’urgence. Nos principaux résultats mettent ainsi en relief une pensée managériale méconnue mais féconde ainsi que moyens d’action adaptés à cette pensée qui fait notamment de l’anticipation un principe dynamique et catalyseur du management de l’urgence napoléonien.

  • urgence en gestion
  • management de l’urgence
  • pensée managériale
  • méthode historique
  • Napoléon
Laurent Mériade
Laurent MÉRIADE is lecturer in management sciences and holds the chair of “Health and Territories”at the IAE Clermont Auvergne (University of Clermont Auvergne). His research interests include management control and the financing of public organisations. His latest publications in “Management international”, “International Review of Administrative Sciences”, “@GRH” and”Gestion et Management Public” deal with the financing and performance management of French and international public organisations.
CleRMa – IAE-University Clermont Auvergne
Jean Marc Sales
Jean Marc SALES is a secondary school teacher in economics and management. He has been teaching since 2013 as a high school teacher at the University of Clermont Auvergne (University School of Management—IAE d’Auvergne) His areas of expertise are strategic management, team management (cohesion, values) and human resources (social and professional relations, social diagnosis, training). He mainly teaches these subjects in bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but also at the University Institute of Technology (in French IUT). At the same time, since 2018, he has started research activities on strategic management and team management.
IAE-University Clermont Auvergne
Translated by
Dr Audrey Milton
CleRMa – IAE-University Clermont Auvergne
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
You still have to read 98% of this article
Purchase full-text 5,00€ 32 pages, electronic only
(html and pdf)
add_shopping_cart Add to cart
Other option
Member of a subscribed institution ? business Authenticate
Uploaded on on 21/09/2021
Distribution électronique pour ESKA © ESKA. Tous droits réservés pour tous pays. Il est interdit, sauf accord préalable et écrit de l’éditeur, de reproduire (notamment par photocopie) partiellement ou totalement le présent article, de le stocker dans une banque de données ou de le communiquer au public sous quelque forme et de quelque manière que ce soit.
Loading... Please wait