Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

The genealogy of the social productivity concept in the early works of André L.-A. Vincent

Bénistand Hélène, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

André L.-A. Vincent is a self-taught economist whose interest for economic grew during the 1920s. In L’organisation dans l’entreprise et dans la Nation (Vincent, 1941), Vincent explains that his main aim is to compare the organization of the firm and the nation, which are comparable because they are composed of men. More precisely, he wants to transpose the principles of the scientific organization of work from the firm to the national scale. This transposition should favour the maximization of what he calls the social productivity, which can be analysed as the maximisation of the social well-being. This goal then becomes an indicator of the achievements of the economic organization. This paper focuses on one of André L.-A. Vincent’s 1941 contribution. This work aims to show that the study of André L.-A. Vincent's work allows us to uncover the doctrine that was to serve as the basis for the establishment of the French economy after the Second World War. This work will notably aim at reconstructing the author's arguments by bringing out the solutions he proposes following his criticisms of "pure liberalism" and "integral dirigisme", i.e. the fact that he is in search of a third way. This engineer of the Arts et Métiers presents productivity as an essential economic tool in his works concerning economic management. Jean Fourastié will take up his proposals on productivity (Fourastié, 1945), assuming productivity as a planning tool. The work of André L.-A. Vincent and the issue of the importance of productivity in economic management were studied only from the standpoint of economic history (Chick, 2003 Boulat, 2002, 2006, 2009), in the very particular context of the post-war period. Considering the secondary literature, this paper aims to study the first works of André L.-A. Vincent in their writing context, which coincides with the emergence of new way of thinking the economic role of the State - X-Crise, planism, corporatism and neoliberalism.


Keywords: social productivity, André L.-A. Vincent, economic organization