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Publié le
Mardi 28 Juillet 2020
Do executives and middle management who have become more and more numerous constitute specific categories with common characteristics as distinct from other employees? Or are they, themselves, with their increasingly diverse positions and responsibilities, a heterogeneous aggregate of employees who are gradually merging with the general workforce?
Les cadres aujourd’hui : quelles spécificités ?

France Stratégie provides some answers to these questions in a summary note that adopts two approaches: one analyzes the indicators separating these middle management and executive profiles from others in terms of socio-professional categories since the beginning of the 2000s; the other examines the positions of executives and middle management (P&MS) in legal and collective agreements. This two-pronged approach makes it possible to gain a better understanding of the characteristics of P&MS in socio-economic profile and employment conditions.

At the end of two years of negotiations, all the representative organizations at the national level announced their intention in June 2020 to sign the National Interprofessional Agreement establishing guidelines for P&MS. The unanimous signing of an ANI is itself a noteworthy event. The fact that it deals with  executives and middle management is another significant feature. The issues at the core of these negotiations were of different sorts. Yet, once again, it is the question of the specificity and identity of executives and middle management that came to the fore.

Since 1947, legislators have created numerous specific measures for salaried "executive and managerial staff" in the private sector--AGIRC merged in 2019 with ARRCO, specific electoral colleges for professional elections, the section for management in the industrial tribunals, APEC. But the criteria that define the jobs of professional and managerial staff in collective agreements are increasingly individualized, with classification grids used for "grading criteria" to help to define employees' skills. The management of working time remains a distinguishing factor, entailing a larger recourse to teleworking and legislation that affords more individualized control of working hours--with packages in days and hours. Remuneration remains the chief advantage of the legal and conventional "status" of manager, other advantages tending to be less significant or likely to disappear.

From a statistical point of view, the definition of the category of these managerial groups is also a variable geometry. The traditional dividing line between executives and non-executives, middle management and others is tending to blur, yet certain characteristics remain conspicuous such as qualifications, remuneration and working hours. Indeed, trends including the blurring of old boundaries linked to managerial responsibility in favor of other distinguishing factors--autonomy, interweaving of personal and professional life, and so forth—remain pertinent even if certain changes have occurred during the last fifteen years.

Behind the weakening of these distinguishing criteria, one must note, above all, a greater heterogeneity among the managerial groups and fewer well-defined boundaries. Indeed, this internal and external differentiation of executives is less conspicuous, yet it is nonetheless operative. The need within companies or administrations for executives, whether managers or not, to participate in the definition and implementation of strategic or organizational decisions remains an imperative, though this dimension can be difficult to gauge since it probably varies with the sector of activity and the size of the companies.

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