Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe

Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe

Managing Change in an Era of Globalisation

Edited by Bernard Gazier and Frédéric Bruggeman

This detailed, comprehensive study on downsizing in Europe is underpinned by cross-national, interdisciplinary empirical research on restructuring management in five European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It contains systematic national comparative overviews, and transversal analyses of more than 30 in-depth case studies, taking into account a broad range of perspectives across professional human resources managers, unions’ representatives, local and national civil servants, social workers and physicians. The authors examine strategic choices and practices in national and local contexts, showing that the practice of restructuring is not as heterogeneous as many previous studies have indicated or predicted. Systematic policy proposals for better economic and social management of restructuring are also prescribed.

Chapter 5: France: Law Driven Restructuring

Maxime Petrovski, Rachel Beaujolin-Bellet, Frédéric Bruggeman and Claude Emmanuel Triomphe

Subjects: business and management, strategic management, economics and finance, labour economics


Maxime Petrovski, Rachel Beaujolin-Bellet, Frédéric Bruggeman and Claude Emmanuel Triomphe The French economy has undergone significant changes since the 1970s when the term “restructuring” first imposed itself as an important element of the political discourse. Since then, the growing role of financial markets and shareholders, the overall increase in competitive pressure, the internationalisation of companies and profound changes in corporate governance and internal organisation have had a considerable impact on restructuring practices. Painful and massive sectoral restructuring, conducted jointly by companies and the state in the 1970s and the 1980s, has been superseded by smaller scale, but permanent and heterogeneous restructurings implemented by companies alone (Aubert, Beaujolin-Bellet, 2004). While much has been done to adapt laws and practices to new realities, the existing system was created to deal with restructurings as exceptional events and is not suited to tackle the problem of permanent change. This mismatch tends to reinforce the strong resistance to restructuring in French society. 1. NATURE AND SCALE OF THE PHENOMENON IN FRANCE Whilst there is no comprehensive monitoring of restructuring in France, two indicators give an idea of the scale of the phenomenon. Figures 5.1 and 5.2 show the annual number of redundancies and “dismissals for other reasons”, as well as the annual number of Social Plans. Two crucial factors must be taken into account when interpreting these figures. Firstly, the statistics show that while the number of Social Plans subsided in the 1990s, it remains substantial. The trough of 890 at the...

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