Photo Gregor
The Management Tools Axis PRINT

Scientific Project

Scientific Head : Patrick Gilbert

Management is a technical practice and managers make use of many tools and techniques. Thus, management, tools and managers are all bound together in a “management technology”. This topic has not, however, been given the research attention it deserves. Management is inseparable from the practice and development of financial accounting, management control, human resources and operations – yet it is a factor that has largely been ignored.

Approaching management by way of its techniques and tools also offers a methodological interest for research. Among other factors (e.g. ideologies, policies, practices, management rules) the management tool is an element of the management system unlike any other. Faced with the complexity of human phenomena in organisations, this tool can unite focus on a precise object of study with what can be called “open-ended interest” in the relations between the object and its context.

The management tool is both highly visible and limited in both space and time. In terms of space, the tool is very contained – its limits and shape are obvious. It exists at “micro” level, even while it has many links with its internal context and with the environment – the “macro” level. In time, it has a past, a starting point, and progresses through distinct stages (the creation of the tool, its dissemination, its operation, and its eventual transformation). The management tool thus becomes a means of communication and analysis of the articulations between micro and macro levels; having a dual orientation, it facilitates changes of scale and contributes to harmonising the two levels.

The researchers in this axis are seeking to break out of the technocentric approach to management (that is, reducing it to a set of techniques and tools) in a socio-centric perspective that is applied to understanding the role of management tools in the origin, functioning and development of management practices, and more widely of collective action within institutions.

This is not a matter of studying the tools in themselves, but of conceiving them as they take their place in the dynamics of an institution, as it works and evolves. In order to gain access not just to the tools but to their deployment on site, researchers stress investigation in the field: research/intervention, research into performance (individual and joint interviews, participatory observation, analysis of content; the study of single or multiple cases.)



Members of the axis take part in monthly GREGOR meetings, and ensure the sharing of experience between the different activities conducted within the axis.

These activities take place in liaison with other research laboratories, notably the CRG (the main laboratory to which N. Raulet-Croset is affiliated), P. Gilbert’s collaboration with Lise Gastaldi and the Lise-CNAM (J.L. Laville), and with other academic and professional institutions (the AGRH and the themed workshop “Management Instrumentalised Through Skills”; the ANACT and the participation of Gilbert in the work of the "Organisation and technology" axis; Enterprise and Personnel and the participation of P. Gilbert in work on the management of experts and researchers; the AFITEP -Association Francophone de Management de projects – and the participation of Christine Triomphe in its Board of Directors.