Call for papers for a special issue of Cahiers d’Histoire du Cnam
“Engineers who read accounts”. Technical and managerial knowledge from the standpoint of cost accounting (1850-1950)
edited by Marco Bertilorenzi (DISSGEA, University of Padua) and Ferruccio Ricciardi (CNRS, Lise-Cnam)
Since the second half of the 19th century, engineers’ tasks have been progressively re-oriented to help the rationalisation of supplies, of flows and of human capital. This transition from a mere technical level role to another in which managerial capabilities were included happened in the midst of a broad transformation of the industrial economy and, more specifically, in sectors such as the mining and steel industries. It is no coincidence that at the beginning of the 20th century, two engineers – Frederick Winslow Taylor et Henri Fayol – significantly contributed to the casting of the conceptual kernel of the new science of modern management. Workforce administration went hand in hand with the management of resources, linking the ability to administer current business with skills in forecasting and anticipating. This new management knowledge – still blurred and not yet formalised – was equipped with a range of new tools, such as for instance Gantt charts, flow charts and descriptive forms of job positions. Among these new tools, cost accounting had a special place because it served both to guide the enterprise and to manage the workforce. The organisational needs of the big enterprise included the necessity of knowing and taking control over costs by anticipation, and contributing to the definition of production and investment plans. Both in France and abroad, engineers played a central role in the managerial transformation of the enterprise. In this special issue of the Cahiers d’histoire du Cnam, we aim to gather contributions concerning the relationship between engineers and cost accounting during the historical development of major industrial enterprise (1850-1950).
Today, the engineering profession, more than any other, seems to embody the transformations which affect contemporary India. It simultaneously symbolizes the rise of the hypothetical « middle classes » and the positioning of India as an emerging power in the international job market, since the country has become one of the preferred destinations of large technological firms. Each year, India awards 3,50,000 engineering degrees. Continue reading →
“The birth anniversary of M. Visvesvaraya (September 15) is marked each year as Engineer’s Day. As another Engineer’s Day arrives, the now-familiar statistics will be rolled out again: lakhs of engineering graduates are produced in India each year from the thousands of engineering colleges that dot the country. This should lead us to examine some questions. What is the secret behind Indians’ love affair with engineering? Are there socio-cultural factors that make the Indian particularly suited to engineering, or that make engineering particularly desirable to Indians?… “
Who exactly are the middle classes in India? What role do they play in contemporary Indian politics and society, and what are their historical and cultural moorings? The authors of this volume argue that the middle class has largely been understood as an ‘income/ economic category’, but the term has a broader social and conceptual history, globally as well as in India. It is this conceptual and social history of the Indian middle class that the book analytically elaborates.
By Ian J. Kerr, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
The publication of Ritika Prasad’s (2015b) Tracks of Change: Railways and Everyday Life in Colonial India marks the maturation of a trend present in the historiography of South Asian railways since the turn of the current millennium. This trend has seen some historians give much more attention to the multidimensional ways in which the railways were central to the making of modern India. Some of the new studies mentioned below are in the form of recently completed PhD theses which, I expect—because they all represent impressive examples of interesting scholarship—to emerge as good books during the next couple of years or so. As an impressive corpus of new research and writing the books, articles and theses that populate this trend deserve to be labelled a new history of India’s railways.
Odile Henry, Les guérisseurs de l’économie. Socio-genèse du métier de consultant (1900-1944), Paris, CNRS Éditions, 2012
“Véritables « médecins des affaires », les ingénieurs-conseils évaluent l’état de santé d’entreprises privées comme d’institutions publiques, et proposent des « thérapies » visant à corriger les dysfonctionnements constatés. Mais derrière leur prétention scientifique à l’objectivité, ces diagnostics et remèdes sont autant d’affirmations normatives sur le monde économique. Mis en oeuvre par les dirigeants, ils deviennent même constitutifs des réalités sociales.
À travers une histoire structurale de la profession de consultant et une analyse de l’émergence du management, Odile Henry nous emmène donc au coeur de l’incessant processus de production symbolique et idéologique de l’ordre social.
Placée, dès le début du xxe siècle, au centre de rivalités entre État et domaine civil, imprégnée de saint-simonisme, nourrie des apports conflictuels du taylorisme et de la doctrine administrative, la profession est l’objet d’âpres luttes d’influence. Elle trouve ensuite, dans le régime de Vichy et son nouvel ordre juridique, un « nouvel espace des possibles », éclairant le rôle décisif de l’État dans la constitution de son autorité.
Ashwani Saith and M. Vijayabaskar (eds), ICT and Indian Economic Development. Economy, Work, Regulation, New Delhi, Sage Publications, 2005
“This book evaluates the recent phenomenon of Information technology communication (ICT) development in India, and discusses such questions as: Can the growth be sustained? How far can an ICT revolution go towards modernising India’s economy? What could be the capacity of ICTs to induce rapid social transformation and change? Can India navigate all the pitfalls and hazards and retain its current comparative advantage in the field of ICT?
– Provide a systematic overview of the major developments and trends in the Indian ICT sector;
– Investigates the dynamism of the IT sector and whether it has contributed to wealth creation in any significant measure; and whether Bangalore, in its area of special strength-software-is a dynamic leader or merely a Silicon Valley follower;
– Assess the role of the State and of government policy, especially with regard to the opportunities for shaping the future of this sector;
– Explore the processes of the restructuring of work and employment in the wake of the IT revolution;
– Set the Indian experience in a wider context through a discussion of the Chinese experience, along with a comparative analysis of ICT clusters in the two countries.”