Getting into the organization’s « pipes » :
the situation of private household customers in the gas connection process in France
Now that public service markets have been opened up to competition, the figure of the customer has become central in the way major public service networks are organized. This article studies the case of access to natural gas in France, now provided in accordance with process management precepts, examining the impact this change is having in the seldom studied field of regulated activities. It points up the differentiated relations that Gaz Réseau Distribution France (GrDF, the company in charge of operating and developing gas networks) has with its customers due to the fact that it is better equipped to meet the standardized demands of a « mass market » than to provide customized service. This state of affairs is due not to any deliberate intention on the part of company heads but rather to the aggregation of multiple individual strategies at all levels of the chain of command, strategies aimed at reconciling the imperative of satisfying the customer with the many other constraints involved in the daily life of work groups. In addition to these observations and the clarifications they offer about the impact of process management, the example studied is highly informative about the organizational changes currently affecting the French model of public service.