In English

Johann Chapoutot’s reductio ad Hitlerum : When ideology prevails over historical rigor (review of J. Chapoutot, Free to Obey)

Review of Johann Chapoutot, Free to Obey : How the Nazis Invented Modern Management, translation by S. Rendall, Europa Editions, 2023 (Libres d’obéir. Le management, du nazisme à aujourd’hui, Gallimard, 2020). Review originally published in French in the Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, Vol. 3, no. 67, 2020, pp.171-187.

Johann Chapoutot’s new book makes two main claims : not only that Nazism was a “managerial moment,” but also that it was “one of the seedbeds of modern management.” He fails to prove either of these hypotheses. The first part of the book describes a Nazism that is not particularly managerial, while the second describes a management that is not particularly Nazi. Regarding the “managerial moment” claim, Chapoutot focuses on just a handful of SS jurists whose ideas had more to do with military command than management, and whose influence on management seems minimal. As for the second claim, it relies on a flawed syllogism : an SS jurist becomes an influential management instructor in postwar Germany ; some elements of his managerial theory were already present in his pre-1945 writings ; therefore, management is tied to Nazism. In attempting to tackle a vast question, Chapoutot offers a history that is riddled with blind spots, partial, and sometimes even tendentious. (Article original en français.)

LeTexier_Johann Chapoutot’s Reductio ad Hitlerum.pdf

The SPE Remains Debunked : A Reply to Zimbardo and Haney (2020)

January 24, 2020.

Le Texier (2019) conducted the first in-depth analysis of the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) archives, resulting in seven substantiated findings : (1) several key elements, such as the prison rules and daily schedule, were not created by the guards but were taken from a student experiment conducted 3 months earlier ; (2) the guards were not informed that they were participants, leading them to think they were part of the experimental team and thus impacting their behavior toward the prisoners ; (3) the prisoners could not leave of their own will and were subjected to harsh conditions designed by the experimenters ; (4) the guards not only knew what results Zimbardo wanted to achieve but were told how to achieve them ; (5) the participants were almost never completely immersed in the unrealistic prison situation, as Zimbardo has claimed ; (6) the collection and reporting of the data were incomplete and biased ; and (7) the conclusions of the SPE had been written in advance according to nonacademic aims.
Zimbardo and Haney’s (2020) comment and Zimbardo’s (2018) online response to recent SPE criticisms did not address three of these findings and failed to present any evidence contradicting the other four. Thus, the SPE remains a debunked, invalid study whose results should be disregarded.

Le Texier_Reply to Zimbardo and Haney_AmPsy_(01-2020)_v3.pdf

Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment

American Psychologist, vol. 74, no. 7, 2019, pp.823-839.

The Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) is one of psychology’s most famous studies. It has been criticized on many grounds, and yet a majority of textbook authors have ignored these criticisms in their discussions of the SPE, thereby misleading both students and the general public about the study’s questionable scientific validity. Data collected from a thorough investigation of the SPE archives and interviews with 15 of the participants in the experiment further question the study’s scientific merit. These data are not only supportive of previous criticisms of the SPE, such as the presence of demand characteristics, but provide new criticisms of the SPE based on heretofore unknown information. These new criticisms include the biased and incomplete collection of data, the extent to which the SPE drew on a prison experiment devised and conducted by students in one of Zimbardo’s classes 3 months earlier, the fact that the guards received precise instructions regarding the treatment of the prisoners, the fact that the guards were not told they were subjects, and the fact that participants were almost never completely immersed by the situation. Possible explanations of the inaccurate textbook portrayal and general misperception of the SPE’s scientific validity over the past 5 decades, in spite of its flaws and shortcomings, are discussed.


Veblen, Commons, and the Modern Corporation : Why Management Does Not Fit Economics

Homo Œconomicus, Volume 30, Issue 1, 2013, pp.101-120

At the end of the 19th century, the everyday activities of developing corporations modified the usual field of economic investigations. Nevertheless, economists were slow off the mark and seemed reluctant to give a proper place to this new player in their theoretical schemes. Thorstein Veblen and John R. Commons offered the first comprehensive history of the modern business firm. Little interested in the anatomy of the corporate leviathan, they rather sounded out its soul and analyzed its double-sided spirit, both pecuniary and industrial.

LE TEXIER - Veblen, Commons, and the Modern Corporation (03.2012).pdf

Management Does Not Necessarily Follow Structure : A Reassessment of Chandler’s View on the Impact of Economic and Technological Factors on Management

Working Paper, October, 2012

Alfred Chandler’s work is of cardinal importance in understanding the emergence and growth of business corporations. Its central thesis can be summarized as follows : management follows structure, structure follows strategy, and strategy follows the dynamics of technology and markets. In a word, technology and markets, more than any other factor, shape a firm’s methods of managing. My research will attempt prove that, though the structure of a business enterprise can be conceived as a response to a given stage of technology and of market expansion, management cannot.


The Uses and Misuses of Foucault for Thinking Management : A Case for a Theory of Managerial Governmentality

Working Paper, February 2012, 19 p.

From the beginning of the 1970s, Michel Foucault works on power. Repressing, ruling, dominating : the discipline, his first developed conception of power, is an essentially negative mechanism. By the mid-70s, Foucault strives to escape the binary and overbearing conception of power he inherited from the theories of sovereignty. He thus balances and nuances this understanding. The power then no longer takes the shape of the prison panopticon, but that of the government - in the narrow sense of State activity, and in the broad sense of a behavioural technology applied to free individuals. Yet, until his death, he remains encumbered by this regal rationality whose influence on the contemporary understanding of power he continues to criticize. Among the main notions he elaborates to cut off the king’s head, the concept of governmentality stands as the most drawn upon today. It is time for management thinkers and historians to seize it and develop a thorough theory of the managerial governmentality, rather than simply focus on the panopticon, subjectivation processes and the power/knowledge paradigm. Far from using the Foucault tool-box as an intellectual straitjacket, management students should use it as a liberating set of sketches to be questioned, complemented, and diverted if necessary.
Key-words : Foucault, discipline, governmentality, management


The First Systematized Uses of the Term “Management” in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Journal of Management History, Volume 19 Issue 2, 2011, pp.189-224

Since its appearance in the English language in the 16th century and until the beginning of the 20th century, the word “management” did not mean primarily “business management.” From the time when its use become frequent, in the middle of the 18th century, five generic types of literature make a repetitive use of the notion : these are texts on husbandry, medical care of the mother and of the infant, household administration, school supervision and engineering. While those uses are very diverse, when considered as a whole all these subject matters show coherence in their common definition of the term “management,” which could be summarized as : caring, making efficient , driving, systematizing, and calculating. This broad characterization of the word “management” was not an explicit reference for business management practitioners and theoreticians at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century, but rather the mental foundation upon which mechanics, engineers, and accountants chose to build their own concept of the notion. From a global overview of this early discourse on management, we draw a hypothesis on the symbolic and institutional causes of the appearance of modern management.


The managerial rationality, from domestic administration to governance

Presentation of my PhD research, 6 p.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the notion of “management” takes a first meaning within a coherent set of concepts - care, industry, arrangement, conduct and calculation - which articulation draws a new way of thinking. At the beginning of the twentieth century, while the business corporation slowly emancipates from the family sphere, this rationality is redefined on the basis of four main general principles : efficiency, organization, control, and knowledge. This second managerial rationality shows, throughout the twentieth century, a unity and a stability that are of a nature neither scientific nor ideological. This rationality cannot be understood by the yardstick of the military discipline, of the patriarchal authority, of the instrumental rationality proper to the engineers, or of the capitalist rationality proper to the economists, for the very reason that it is formulated largely in reaction to these four rationalities. Precisely, the second managerial rationality constitutes a new understanding of the way of governing individuals, which we call a “governmentality”, in way slightly different from Foucault. This managerial governementality cannot be fitted into a unique organisational frame, but circulates between different institutions, the most prominent of which being the family, the business corporation and the state. The study of this new governmentality is the occasion to question the main views of government prevailing on both sides of the Atlantic for a century and a half, and thus to contributes to clarifying the contemporary ways of thinking about power.
Key-words : history, management, rationality, governmentality, institution

LE TEXIER - The Managerial Rationality (07.2011).pdf

Homemade Economics : The Managerial Rationalization of Women’s Everyday Life in America, 1820-1920

Working Paper, February 2012, 16 p.

The paper sketches the nature and the logic of the discourse on household administration in America from 1820 to 1920. Using a hermeneutic approach, it reveals how this literature insists on measuring for efficiency rather than on accounting for profit, and thus unveils understandings of management science and economics different from the ones prevailing nowadays. Finally, this study invites to understand this literature not mainly as an instrument for the male oppression of women but as a way for them of escaping tradition.
Key words : household management, economics, accounting, women’s emancipation

LeTexier- HomemadeEconomics(02.2012).pdf

Another World Is Thinkable : Citizens’ Movements, Global Governance and the Creation of Alternatives

Conference at Lancaster University, November 14th, 2005, 6 p.

Global governance should be the the major issue for the alternative globalisation movement. In what way are the alternatives to the global order put forward by social movements relevant, integrated and coherent ? Are those alternatives really alternative ? And what are the strategies put in place by the citizens’ movements to make this other world possible, or at least thinkable ? Read online.

La gouvernance mondiale devrait, a priori, être la grande affaire de l’altermondialisme, c’est-à-dire de ce courant qui aspire, comme son nom et sa devise l’indiquent, à un autre monde. Quelles sont donc les propositions portées par les mouvements sociaux et citoyens en matière de gouvernance mondiale ? Ces alternatives sont-elles réellement alternatives ? Et quelles sont les stratégies mises en place par ces mouvements pour faire cet autre monde possible, ou au moins pensable ?

LE TEXIER - Another World Is Thinkable [11.2005 - 30 ko]

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