The Matignon machine

Thierry WEIL

Former technical advisor for research and technology to ex-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's cabinet

Seminar Business life | Friday October 03, 2003

Nearly twenty years ago, at a seminar entitled Ethnographie des organisations (Ethnography of organisations), forerunner of the École de Paris, Philippe Roqueplo gave a talk on how a ministerial cabinet works. He attempted to explain how something intelligent can emerge from what he described as " an efficient but inevitable mess ". Thierry Weil agrees with this point of view in his own presentation of some aspects of the daily functions of the Prime Minister's cabinet. The cabinet is a powerful machine for managing crises and finding rapid solutions to disputes through constant discussion which, in principle, is the forum where all relevant interests are represented. However, during the discussion of Weil's talk, well-known limitations of the system were mentioned: the fundamental inequality between the dominant ministries (notably the Finance Ministry) and ministries of lesser importance ; the weak position of management in terms of human resources ; the barrier between ministerial cabinets and the Administration which is impossible to cross ; and the obligatory and general use of the grapevine, a constant source of disinformation.

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This session was published in issue n°45 of the Journal de l'École de Paris du management, entitled Ces organisations qui ont une âme.