n°100 JUIN 2010


By Michel BERRY

In December 1985, the first issue of a journal of research in management with an original style came out in a very particular context in France. This new journal was part of the revue Annales des mines, which had been founded in 1794. It might come as a surprise, but this revue had, already in the 19th century, shown interest in nontraditional topics far from mining engineering.
In the 1970s, innovative research on management was taking place in circles associated with École Polytechnique and École des Mines in Paris. The journal close to these engineering schools naturally opened its pages to these studies. It was an ideal medium. Since Annales des mines did not have a tradition of research in management, this left us free to invent principles, standards and a style.
The new journal was named Gérer & comprendre to signal the importance to be given to the too often missing link between research and actual practices. Is it not still said that academics, researchers, institutions of management, and the business schools should be relevant? This concern figured at the core of the new journal’s identity from its very creation. To attract the interest of “practitioners”, the editorial board prizes the quality of writing, a sense of humor and illustrations that are “offbeat” in relation to the text. All of that might sound suspicious in academic circles; but as Montesquieu, the 18th-century precursor of sociology, said, when you have something to say, it is a crime to be boring…
Of course, it was indispensable not to compromise on rigor, but the style for reporting facts rigorously had to be reinvented.
An editorial board was formed, made up of a dozen members initially (fifteen today). It brought together both researchers from management and neighboring disciplines, and practitioners of management. It meets regularly to make joint decisions about whether or not to accept submissions for articles. This procedure has endowed the journal with a flare and editorial identity, which the board upholds while replying to authors in a short time, normally less than two months.
To publish a journal with flair, we came upon the idea of using headings to suggest the type of article we are looking for. The heading “Overlooked…” underscores our attachment to observations from the field and to narratives of actual experiences. “Trial by fact” calls for experimentation, for testing and criticizing popular managerial methods and fads. “Other times, other places” invites us to look toward the past or toward distant places; this heading bids a welcome to historians and anthropologists. “Debated” reminds us that controversies are the driving force for making advances in knowledge. “In quest of theories” suggests that the journal is more interested in theories in the making than in widely recognized ones.

Gérer & comprendre has gradually established its style and reputation. Authors know that the articles are pleasant to read but that it is not easy to have a submission accepted. The journal is a reference mark in the French-speaking world. Its circulation has reached beyond French academia’s narrow bounds for several years now.
To tell the truth, the journal does have a single major fault: it is in French. This limits its circulation during an era of globalization. We thus decided to present, for our 100th issue, the translation into English of a few selected articles that illustrate our esprit. To maintain these open doors, Gérer & comprendre will continue regularly translating some articles into English on the web. Better yet, it will translate into French submissions in English that are accepted for publication. We invite our non-French-speaking friends to grab their quills and keyboards…


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