Accueil > English Supplement > Volume 49, Supplement 2 > The local-global firm : Lyonnaise des Eaux, 1980–2004 - D. Lorrain

The local-global firm : Lyonnaise des Eaux, 1980–2004 - D. Lorrain

Dominique Lorrain
Centre d’études des mouvements sociaux, CNRS-EHESS, 54, boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris, France

Available online 21 December 2007 on ScienceDirect

This article describes the policy of internationalization conducted by Lyonnaise des Eaux (renamed Suez) and it focuses on the internal transformations during the period from 1980 to 2004 : the stages in these changes, the organizational characteristics and the principles that were applied. The central argument is to consider that this company has, over the period, designed a new type of organization which combines a deep center and the operation of many different operating units based in a large number of countries. It has thus become a “local-global” firm ; different from existing types (H, U, M, J) of firms. This new form has four characteristics : the central role played by local units, procedures of reporting towards a compact center, assistance from the center, and direct exchanges between local units following a “principle of connectivity”. This discussion of the specificity of the large firm with institutional properties is related to a general history of large firms and it contributes as well for a theory of change. It leads to revising the well-established dichotomy between Institution and Market as this type of firm borrows from both fields.

Keywords : Large firm ; M firm ; Cellular firm ; Lyonnaise des Eaux ; Suez ; Privatization ; Public services ; Utilities

Article Outline

  • 1. Beginning to go international : 1980–1993
    • 1.1. Commando-type organization
    • 1.2. Learning to explain the specificity of a service approach
    • 1.3. Where to develop further and with whom ? Partnerships
    • 1.4. What makes the firm a group ?
  • 2. Towards an international organization : 1993–2000
    • 2.1. Organizational changes
    • 2.2. Personnel management
    • 2.3. Influence strategies
    • 2.4. Developing global intelligence
  • 3. Since 2000, the local-global firm
    • 3.1. New competition
    • 3.2. A more compact group, disciplined by the figures
    • 3.3. Human resources : the connectivity principle
    • 3.4. Governance : between realism and sustainable development
  • 4. Institutional organizations and change
  • Appendix A.
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 49, Supplement 2, December 2007, Pages e90–e109
Translated by Amy Jacobs