Paradoxes et management stratégique des territoires: étude comparée de métropoles européennes

Abstract : Our work is about local and public organizations. More precisely, we are interested in metropolitan organizations. These are public establishments with metropolitan strategic responsibilities such as the development and management of an institutionalized territory. Thence, our metropolitan public organisations are also recognized authorities. We present them as complex organizations, evolving in complex environments. The discussion is oriented towards the paradoxical nature of these organizations. A paradox implies the presence of contradictory and mutually exclusive elements, which operate concurrently (Cameron, Quinn, 1988). It corresponds to a situation where something is the actor and the arena of its action at the same time (Barel, 1989). All paradoxes are a consequence of contradiction and all create situations where choice is forbidden . In addition, paradoxes have a relativist nature, an interactive dimension and they follow a dialectic rule (Seltzner, 1986, Ford, Backoff, 1988). Paradoxes suffuse the lives of metropolitan organizations. For instance, they lack complete authority to manage their territory, that is, they must exercise their attributions and legal competencies without the means of control and coercion on their stakeholders. The hardships of choice are such that: they do not choose the territory to manage, their competencies, or their status. While an organization can delimitate strategic intentions, their implementation is not a legal obligation and, above all, it depends significantly on stakeholders and its close environment. In brief, metropolitan organizations have some decisional and organizational capacities, but they are intrinsically dependant and strongly constrained by their environment. As a consequence, the metropolitan management is set at the crossroad of context and strategic intent, or of determinism and voluntarism. However, metropolitan organizations can resolve the paradoxes of their initial situation, thanks to a paradoxical management style. Thus, our aim is to explore the particular case of public organizations with two intentions. First, we want to demonstrate that these organisations experience a situation of paradoxical management. Also, we want to grasp what are the management tools of these organizations. Understanding the modalities of the management of paradoxes is our second goal. The research is organised as follows. We begin by introducing certain theoretical ideas on paradoxical management that are central to the analysis. We want to explore paradoxes faced by metropolitan organizations in order to understand the inherent constraints of local governance. We then present the methodology of our research process. We illustrate our topic with the results of case studies performed in three French, one Spanish, and one British metropolitan organizations (Lyon, Nantes, Marseille, Barcelona, Nottingham). Our research covered a 9-months period of time and was continuing. We used case studies because they allow the comprehension of complex processes of decision-making, implementation and change in organisations (Hammersley, 2004). Case study methodology permits access to detailed, first-hand information across a wide range of features of a case. This method permits to describe and explain a phenomenon or process which has a particular interest. In addition, case studies are the preferred strategy when “how” or “why” questions are being posed, when the researcher has little control over events, and when the focus is on a contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context (Yin, 1989). Documentary sources included internal documents, articles and web documents, interviews, and observations. Although they are more subject to hindsight bias than documentary records, interviews allow a greater degree of understanding of why events occurred as they did and how people felt about them. We conducted around fifty interviews, each 1-2 hours long on average. All were taped and transcribed. Interviewees included administrative, financial, communication, strategic, and human resources managers. Last, we present the result of our qualitative research. Paradoxical management corresponds to the implementation of management tools destined to articulate the contradictory elements of the paradoxes identified. We separate three types or levels of paradox in the lives of metropolitan organizations. First, management tools must be used to articulate the intentions and the implementation of metropolitan strategies. Secondly, they must support the articulation between inner stakeholders (within metropolitan framework) and outside stakeholders (on its territory). Thirdly, they must support the relatedness between the institutionalized, legal territory and the effective areas of public action. When these three levels of paradox management are operating, we can speak of a systemic management of the territory. It means that the organization is able to manage the whole lot of paradoxes that it needs to cope with.
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Contributor : Solange Hernandez <>
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Solange Hernandez. Paradoxes et management stratégique des territoires: étude comparée de métropoles européennes . Gestion et management. Université Aix-Marseille, 2006. Français. ⟨tel-01318087⟩



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