Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bonjour paresse: de l'art et de la nécessité d'en faire le moins possible en entreprise

This book is like, wow, hard to interpret. It's kind of like getting a glimpse inside of France's psychosis of work. Corinne Maier, an economist (part time, mind you) for EDF, France's state energy company, goes out of her way to pillory the French business establishment. As a professor once told me, "this is just venality." Of course, Maier is a hilarous writer and she makes me think of a particular archetype of the hilarous Frenchwoman.

Now, I'm sure there is much to pillory in these horrible corporations where people are condemned to "neoslavery". In the United States, I would say that the bloom is very much off the corporate rose as well--difference is, people's response here is much different than the one outlined in Bonjour paresse. Of course, in France, it's nearly impossible for an employer to fire an employee, so the solutions outlined by Maier make a sort of twisted sense: rot out the company from the inside, get by without expending any effort, ape the latest management jargon and save the "essential" of your energy for your own personal pursuits.

Still, as I read the book in my role as an American employee, I can't help but think I couldn't live this way. I would rather be part of the solution--if the company is hypocritical, help change it. If that's not possible, vote with your feet in pursuit of a better organization, or best yet, start your own. Which is really what she's done herself by becoming a best-selling author, even if she's kept her part time gig at EDF. As-tu dit «hypocrite», chérie?

By Corinne Maier
ISBN# 2841862313

English Version: