LES ANNALES DES MINES
FOR OUR ENGLISH-SPEAKING READERS
How young engineers view industry
The perilous quest for Eldorado : Enterprise Resource Planning
In firms, Eldorado, the Garden of Eden and the Promised Land have been renamed Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). These integrated software packages promise big advances in management and competitiveness. Installing and using them is a path full of traps that does not always lead to paradise. What to expect from these miracle-working tools?
1982-2002, lessons from twenty
years of decentralization
In 2002, decentralization has, again, become a government
priority with the support of elected officials. The pace of reforms is
speeding up, but the road has many a pitfall in a country with a centralizing
tradition reaching back several centuries. Assessing the decentralization
conducted since 1982 and studying the distribution of powers in other European
countries might help us catch a better glimpse of a French-style decentralization.
The French beef market
In terms of reorganization, the
French beef market has fallen behind markets for manufactured products.
The reason is a “picker’s logic” fostered by the EU’s Common Agricultural
Policy and its corollary, comanaged agricultural markets. The concept of
quality suddenly cropped up in the beef market as a result of the health
crisis in recent years. It is evidence that this market has at long last
matured. Official labels, based on livestock, for identifying quality do
not suffice to inform consumers.
When research makes us dream
French public research is periodically criticized for its inertia and insufficient relations with the world of business. Several cures have been proposed. But research is not an easygoing patient, and the prescribed remedies have not always had the hoped-for effects. It might, therefore, be time to go back to a wellspring of research: its ability to make us dream.
Defects in public buildings
The origin of many problems in public buildings apparently
lies in the chief civil engineer and the legal environment of such projects,
which dilutes responsibilities. Public-private partnerships might be a
way to redress this situation. Many successful examples of them can be
found in other countries and even in France. Several hurdles must, however,
From the absolute monarchy of state monopolies to the fiefs of the lords of electricity
Jean Huby, Fabrice Noilhan and Philippe Sauvage
Thanks to the liberalized electricity market in the European Union, state monopolies have been succeeded by a few multinational firms. Lacking a consensus and strong political determination, EU states will still have to intervene in minimal ways to arbitrate between competition and security.
Experts, companies, the European Commission and governments in Europe are pitted in battle. Should patents be delivered for software? Yes, if the aim is to protect really useful inventions; no if that would lead to turning fake inventions into an undue source of unearned income. Yes for “good patents”, no for “bad” ones. But what if we do not know how to tell them apart in actual practice?
Fields of controversy over GMOs
Talk about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) leads to inquiring into the state’s role and the definition of the common good and general interest. In a shortcut, GMOs raise fundamental questions that will affect our lives tomorrow and that put to the proof our paradigms.
Polish vitality and Brussels
Poland is a major challenge in 2004’s bigger European Union. Its sometimes surprising attitude during negotiations with Brussels have often made it look enigmatic. Powerful rites have founded the identity of this country so often been divided among its neighbors during its history. These rites are now blurring as the state slowly assumes its role. The Polish challenge is not simply to join the EU but to work out a positive relation between Poles and their state.
Generic brands, a false solution
for rising health expenditures
Far behind its neighbors in using generic drugs, France
has, in the past three or four years, decided to boost them in order to
curb rising health costs. As a quick calculation shows however, potential
savings will not make up for the increased cost of a visit with a general
practitioner or the larger margins granted to pharmacists. In a few months,
they will be used up due to increased spending on drugs.