The changing nature of French industry has been the subject of numerous studies over the past thirty years. Many of these works have helped to improve knowledge around the changes which have taken place within industrial organizations. However, only a few studies have directly examined those who were in charge of implementing these changes, the bosses. This article seeks to study how transformations in contemporary capitalism have changed the work of bosses within large and small industrial firms. Based on a qualitative study, carried out among two generations of bosses from the cutlery industry in the town of Thiers, this paper will seek to trace the history of three companies. The history of these three companies reveals some of the great economic and social transformations of French society; the contraction in the number of workers within the industrial sector, the industrialization of the craft industry, the effects of Chinese international competition, the deployment of new management methods, the evolution of consumption patterns and the spread of reinforced hygiene standards.
- biographical trajectories