The impact of mutualist values on forms of management control A study of three mutualist organizations (MACIF, MAIF, Les Ménages Prévoyants)[Research paper] by Adrien Couret


The author was part of the "Alternative Management" third year program in HEC Paris in 2006/2007.

This study deals with the management of mutual insurance companies (i.e. companies identifiable by collective ownership of their members-clients and by the power of democratic debate in their political decision-making), especially regarding management control. In these organizations claiming to be more generous than others, performance is by nature paradoxical: How do we reconcile the demand for solidarity among members with the pressures of the market economy in such a way that the company remains true to its mutalist roots?

This paradox exposes employess at mutual insurance companies to a strong need for justifying their actions along with those of their company. Basing our theoretical reflexion on "large scale economies" – a French sociology current deriving from conventionalist theories (Boltanski, Thévenot, 1991) – and on social and behavioural approaches to management control (Berry, 1983; Boussard, 2001), we investigated rules of implicit fairness, management processes and the use of key indicators to control performance, in three mutual insurance companies.

Our results display an evident discrepancy between rules of implicit fairness and management processes influenced by a mutualist identity on one side, and the use of key performance indicators that is clearly less specific on the other. This discrepancy is connected to management tools which do not correspond with the mutual company reality: they are still rooted in the determinist economic commercial logic characteristic of the 1980's adaptation to market pressure, while the employees now aspire to read their performance in a way that is balanced by quality indicators.

Quote article  Adrien Couret, « The impact of mutualist values on forms of management control A study of three mutualist organizations (MACIF, MAIF, Les Ménages Prévoyants) », 05 december 2007, Alternative Management Observatory (AMO), [Research paper]

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