The French Civil Service: Bureaucracy in Transition

By Walter Rice Sharp | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII THE RECRUITMENT OF EXPERTISE: PROFESSIONAL AND SCIENTIFIC

Not only does the French State provide a far-flung system of specialized training for professional and scientific work, but it undertakes to ensure that the institutions of the State itself will be manned by the potentially best talent which this system is capable of developing. When it is remembered also that, counting educational staffs and the judiciary, nearly a third of the national government's pay roll is absorbed by personnel falling within this category, there can be no doubt of the capital importance attached to the selective devices by which the "cream" of this talent is skimmed for the public service. In France, even engineers and physical scientists are developed primarily with a view to an apprenticeship of several years in government work, if not in the majority of instances, a life career. In contrast with what has been the usual order of things in the United States, the research and consultative branches of French industry, as well as indeed the liberal professions, are prone to draw their expertise from the ranks of promising younger personnel in the public services rather than the latter having to look to the former. That this "reverse" process has elements of strength as well as weakness for the relations of government with business and professional life is obvious. But just how these elements play against one another can be understood only after we have appraised the specific procedures of selection in their relation to governmental promotion and compensation policies. The present chapter will initiate such an appraisal.

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