Sociology of the firm and changes in Capitalism
Coordination : Pierre FRANÇOIS
The state and the energy sector in France :
Who are the managers and what are their relationships ?
Since the end of the 1980s the state has been engaged in a withdrawal from the management of nationalized businesses. The institutional environment for industrial firms has changed considerably as a result. Firms have internationalized and a number of markets have been liberalized. What has been the result of these changes for relations between the state and big business ? In this article I set out to respond to this question looking at the case of the energy sector, in which the state has played a large role as a shareholder since the beginning of the 1990s. Considering the managers of the largest firms in this sector to be business resources, I will identify the strategies implemented by these firms, which reveal recourse to the state and notably the political sphere. The changes to the social properties of the energy sector managers have proceeded in two directions during the last two decades. The firms have it both ways, exhibiting both their independence from the state through administrative boards, while reinforcing informal ties with the political sphere through their executive committees.
Key words. CAPITALISM – ECONOMIC ELITES – STATE – INDUSTRY – ENERGY – PUBLIC COMPANIES