The reform “LARROUTUROU”: A new organisation for a stronger and more open CNRS

[this essay was for my course on Reform Management. it was largely based on a report. A lot of the information was based on http://www.lsv.ens-cachan.fr/~petit/Divers/LORS-Special-CNRS.pdf but this information was greatly cross checked with colleagues that were there when the reform too place and are still in CNRS, so they could give me an opinion on what changed and what did not ]
1. Introduction
Governments are increasing becoming aware of the important role that research and technology play in the economic, social, environmental, competitive and sustainable development of a country. As a result, the existence of strategic research and technology initiatives and the proper and efficient organization of scientific efforts are a key policy priority for any European country. In fact, one the five EU headline targets on which Europe 2020 (a strategy for jobs and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth), is that 3% of the EU’s GDP should be invested in Research and Development (R&D). In the case of France, since 2004 the indicator of this target GERD (Gross domestic expenditure on R&D) as a percentage of GDP, ranged from 2.08% (in 2007) to 2.26 % (in 2009).
To continue to excel in the changed regional, national and international conditions, the general direction of CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), the French National Centre for Scientific Research and the largest fundamental research organisation in Europe, has implemented the “Project for CNRS”, which involved six key changes in the organisation. This renovation project of great magnitude was prepared in early 2004 by Gerard Mégie, an atmospheric physicist and the then President of CNRS, and Bernard Larrouturou, a Mathematician and then Director-General of CNRS. The subsequent reform is now remembered as the “Reform Larrouturou”.
In this paper, after a very brief description of CNRS, the general aims of the Reform will be outlined and followed by a description of how it was formulated. For these changes to be achieved, a number of organisational changes were required. The six key changes imposed by the reform will then be discussed, in each case through a description of what was the status quo before (Situation A), of what was planned according to the reform, of the arguments for and against each change, of whether these were in fact implemented (Situation B) and of whether these have been properly incorporated in the organisation of CNRS (Situation C).
2.A brief description of CNRS
Founded in 1939, CNRS is a public institution under the administrative authority of France’s Ministry of Higher Education and Research. It is mainly funded by the government, but receives funding also from industrial and European research contracts, royalties on patents, licenses, and services provided.
CNRS’s mission is to evaluate and carry out research to advance knowledge and bring social, cultural and economic benefits to society. In this spirit, CNRS is funding most scientific fields in a number of research units or laboratories (“labotoires”) located throughout France.
In 2011, CNRS employed 25,600 people, including 11,450 researchers and 14,180 engineers, technicians and administrative staff. In the same year, there were 1,100 laboratories. Its provisional budget for 2011 was 3,204.25 million euros, out of which 2,527.51 million came from public funding. Finally, its researchers contribute around 70% of the publications produced in France, with more than half of these publications including collaborators from outside France.
3.Policy formulation
The first step in the formulation of the Reform was the paper written by President Gerald Mégie and Director-General Bernard Larrouturou “Notre projet pour le CNRS (Our Project for CNRS)” (1stof March 2004). The original paper was circulated to the staff of CNRS and members of the Scientific Cabinet, the National Committee and the Joint Technical Committee. It was also sent to scientific departments and key partners of CNRS, including the Presidents of the Universities with whom CNRS is collaborating as well as a number of industrial partners.
These were consulted in the following order:
        Meetings at the regional level were arranged with the directors of the laboratories, who were asked to set up consultations within their units.
        The Director-General participated at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Sections of the National Committee. He also had meetings with all the unions, the scientific advisors of CNRS and consultation departments.
        A first debate took place at the level of Cabinet of CNRS, of the Scientific Council – mainly on aspects relating to policy on scientific issues – and of the Joint Technical Committee – mainly on aspects relating to the organization – in each case without placing a vote.
        A second series of meetings took place with the directors of laboratories and the Conference of Presidents of the Sections of the National Committee in order for the Director-General to consider their opinions.
Based on the results of all these consultations, a paper was prepared that described the reform in detail by the management team of the then CNRS President Bernard Meunier (who took over after the death of President Gerand Mégie ).
This paper was amended and approved by the Joint Technical Committee on the 9th of May 2005 (with 15 votes for and 5 against), and then by the Scientific Council on the 13th of May 2005 (with 11 votes for, 2 against and 5 abstentions). Finally, the paper received its final amendments and approval by CNRS’s Cabinet on the 19thof May 2005 (with13 votes for, 5 against, two blank ballots and a director not involved in the vote). All this work was also contributed to the formulation in early 2006 of the Strategic Plan of CNRS proposed to the Cabinet.
Four days after its acceptance by the Cabinet, on the 23th of May 2005, apress conference took place where Bernard Larrouturou announced the Reform, whose implementation would be completed on the 1st of January of 2006. This reform was, according to the Director-General, an essential step in building the future of the organisation, allowing for dynamic science and for improvements in the functioning of CNRS and strengthening of its partnerships.
To put the Reform in motion, a number of “Decisions” were signed by the Director-General. These were internal legal binding announcements that guaranteed the implementation of their contents.
4. The major aims of reform
The reform approved by the Cabinet on May 19th 2005 specified the aims of major importance for CNRS:
AIM 1:            CNRS should be primarily a research institution.
With its partners in France, Europe and worldwide, CNRS has to increase its activities in the field of scientific foresight. It must strengthen its capacity to develop and implement an inspiring policy on scientific issues, increase its attractiveness and develop its human resources policy. It must also improve its internal operations, increase efficiency and simplify the operation of laboratories.
AIM 2:           CNRS should fully register its activity in the continuum education-research-innovation.
The debate between basic research and technological innovation must give way to a positive relationship between modern science and technology, between public research and enterprises, between science and society. While still heavily involved in basic research, which must remain the bedrock of its activity, CNRS should contribute to the rapprochement between public and private research, essential for the future of businesses and jobs in France and Europe, and the transfer of knowledge, expertise, skills and technologies to the wider society.
AIM 3:           CNRS should promote interdisciplinary research
Interdisciplinary research has lead to great breakthroughs in science and technology and is at the centre of the great current scientific issues. With its strong presence in all major areas of science, CNRS should get better at mobilizing its expertise to help solve the major issues of interdisciplinary science in the coming decades.
AIM 4:          CNRS should promote independence of young researchers
CNRS’ aim should be to create the conditions necessary for the emergence of new ideas, teams or disciplines: It should encourage and reward risk taking in order to improve the responsiveness of the organisation to new avenues of research with its French, European and International partners.
AIM 5:           CNRS should strengthen dialogue with universities
French research will have a bright future if changes take place at the National level that strengthen the capacity of Higher Education institutions to be strong players on the European and international scene, their ability to define and implement their scientific priorities and play a strong role in the formation of Regional Clusters. CNRS should aim to promote this development by expanding its strategic dialogue with key partners in Higher Education.
AIM 6:          Europe should be seen by CNRS as the space that ensures the future of its research
Exchanges of people and the sharing of ideas and cultures should take place across the European Union and the entire continent, not just at the National level. CNRS should play a leading role in building European research.
AIM 7:           CNRS should invest in regional dynamics and clusters
The emphasis of Regions is an important evolution of the landscape of the French and European research. The construction of regional centres of excellence, visible on the European and global scale and attractive for both the brightest students and scientists, and the most renowned and innovative companies, should be a major objective of CNRS.
5. A new organization was necessary
In order to achieve all the above aims, the organisational structure of CNRS – very little changed in the previous decades – needed to be adapted to clarify the role that each part of CNRS should play.
The six major changes were outlined in the reform, summarized in Table 1. In each case, the status quo before (Situation A), owhat was planned according to the reform, what was in fact implemented (Situation B) and of whether these have been properly incorporated in the organisation of CNRS (Situation C) are summarised. In the last two columns, J means that the changes were almost exactly implemented, the L  that the changes cannot be considered to have been implemented and ~ means that they were implemented but in a different form that was stated in the Reform text.
Table 1 Summary of Key Changes of the Reform Larrouturou
KEY CHANGE
BEFORE THE REFORM
(SITUATION A)
REFORM STATES:
IMPLEMENTATION:            CNRS in 2007
(SITUATION B)
AFTER THE 2009 REFORM: CNRS in 2012
(SITUATION C)
(1)     Organisational hierarchy
Department for Studies and Programs, Department of relations with the higher education institutions, Department for international relations.
The human resources department is not part of the Cabinet
In the Cabinet working with the Director-General includes the directors of a number of new Offices
J
~
(2)    Scientific departments
Division of sciences in eight departments and two national institutes
Division into four thematic departments and two transversal departments (the two national institutes are attached to one of the thematic)
J
~
(3)    Management/ Steering
No direction consolidating the scientific departments and national institutes.
A Scientific General Directorate (DSG) bringing together the 4 scientific thematic departments and 2 institutes, set up beside the Director-General of CNRS
L
~
(4)    Strategy and foresight
No office in charge of strategy and foresight
Office for the strategy and foresight beside the President and Director-General
J
L
(5)    Laboratories
A large number of organisations to which the laboratories of CNRS were attached to
No common management of laboratories
Alongside own laboratories and joint laboratories, there will be linked laboratories to one (or more) other institution(s) related to CNRS.
Each laboratory will be bound by a contract signed by CNRS and the other institution to which it is attached, as well as the laboratory director
Maintenance of relation between goals-means
J
J
(6)    Regions
Regional Delegates represented themselves at CNRS management level, but there was no representation of the national leadership of CNRS at the regional level
Laboratories will be linked to five inter-Regional Directorates: South East, South West, Ile-de-France (Paris), Northeast and Northwest.
~
~
Each key change will now be considered in turn.
KEY CHANGE 1: Organisational hierarchy changes in order to help the Director-General achieve the goals of the organisation.
The work of the Director-General was supported by a number of administrative departments before the reform: the General Secretariat, Department for Studies and Programs, the Department of Communication, the Department for Relations with Higher Education institutions, the Department of Industrial Relations and the Department for International Relations (Figure 1). Even if there was a Human Resources department this was not part of the Cabinet.
Many of these departments remained according to the text of the Reform, namely the General Secretariat, the renamed Department for European and International Relations, the renamed Department for Industrial Relations and Technology Transfer and the Department of Communication (Figure 2). The Department of Human Resources was planned to be promoted upwards in the organisational hierarchy.
In addition to these departments, the Director-General would be assisted by the Scientific Director-General (see KEY CHANGE 3) as well as by the five Inter-regional Directors (see KEY CHANGE 6). The Departments for Studies and Programs, and for Relations with Higher Education institutions disappear in the Reform written by Mégie and Larrouturou.
All these changes are related to the first aim mentioned in Section 4, i.e. CNRS should be primarily a research institution, increasing its attractiveness, developing its human resources policy, improving its internal operations and increasing its efficiency. The arguments for these specific changes were that it would enhance the coherence of the organization and to allow the Director-General to establish a process for dividing the annual CNRS budget to the laboratories based on the proposals of the Scientific Director-General and the Scientific departments and institutes.
Not everyone agreed however that this new organisational hierarchy would help in the achievement of the aims outlined above. There were fears that the reform would result in multiplication of administrative layers and as a result the new internal organization of CNRS would be less (rather than more) easy to understand and function.
When the reform was finally put in place, there were some relatively minor changes in the case of some departments, with the exception of the Department of Communication (Figure 3). The Department of Human Resources became part of the General Secretariat, the Department for European and International Relations was split into two departments (one for European Affairs and one for International Relations), and the Department for Industrial Relations and Technology Transfer was renamed the Department for Industrial Policy. Moreover, two new departments were added: the Department for Partnerships and the Department for Scientific Information.
Figure 1 CNRS organisation before the reform, showing the 8 scientific departments (in colour) and the 4 administrative departments. In addition, the link with the 19 regional delegations is also shown. (Source: CNRS)
 
Figure 2 CNRS organisation according to the reform, showing the 4 thematic scientific departments and the 2 cross-sectional scientific departments, as well as the 4 administrative departments. In addition, it is shown that the 19 regional delegations are now group in 5 interregional delegations. (Source: CNRS)
 
Figure 3 Organisational chart of CNRS in 2007, showing that the regional delegations remained as they were (KEY CHANGE 6), that there were 4 thematic and 2 cross-sectional scientific departments (KEY CHANGE 2), the presence of the Office for Strategy and Foresight (KEY CHANGE 4) as well as the increased number of administrative departments (KEY CHANGE 1). (Source: CNRS – modified by me)
Table 2 summarises all the envisaged changes by the reform, as compared to the status quo in 2004 (SITUATION A) and to what was actually implemented (SITUATION B).
Table 2 KEY CHANGE 1: Organisational hierarchy
BEFORE THE REFORM (SITUATION A)
Department for Studies and Programs
Department of Relations with the Higher Education Institutions
Department for International Relations
The Human Resources director is not part of the Cabinet
REFORM STATES:
The Cabinet includes the following members:
– the Scientific Director- General,
– the General Secretary,
– the Director of Human Resources,
– the 6 Directors of Scientific Departments,
– the 5 Inter-regional Directors,
– the Director of European and International Relations,
– the Director of Industrial Relations and Technology Transfer,
– the Director of Communications.
Invited members to this Cabinet will be the Directors of the two National Institutes (IN2P3 and INSU).
The departments for Studies and Programs and for Relations with Higher Education Institutions disappear.
IMPLEMENTATION: CNRS in 2007 (SITUATION B)
Department of Partnerships (DPA) created in order to establish and develop partnerships with other institutions of higher education and research, the regions and other research organizations.
The Department of Industrial Policy (IPR) develops, proposes and implements the industrial policy of CNRS (e.g. ensures the interface between business and science departments, enhancement of technology transfer through patents, licenses and contracts).
The direction of European and International Relations (DREI) led the European and international policy of the institution, coordinating the relations of CNRS with other research organizations abroad. This was split into the Department of European Affairs (DAE) and Department of International Relations (DRI).
The Department of Communication (DirCom) develops and implements the communication strategy of CNRS in support of the policy of the institution and ensures the coherence of communication for all departments and services.
No Scientific Director-General, Inter-regional Directors, Department for Studies and Programs and for Relations with Higher Education Institutions.
It can be concluded from the above, that the changes mentioned in the original text of the Reform were more or less implemented, with some small additions. It is obvious from the comparison of Figures 1-3 that the structure of CNRS was more complex following the Reform, but some layers of the hierarchy were not implemented (the Scientific Director-General and the Inter-regional Directors) but these refer to KEY CHANGES 3 and 6, so their success will be considered separately below. Thus, it can be concluded that the implementation of this part of the reform was indeed successful.
This structure did not last very long however. With the change of administration (Director-General and President – see Section 6 below) a new structure for CNRS was chosen (Figure 4). The current structure of CNRS (SITUATION C) is more complex than that in 2007, due to the creation of many new departments.
Figure 4 Organisational chart of CNRS in 2012
KEY CHANGE 2: Six scientific departments, two of which would be cross-sectional
The reform aimed for a passage from eight scientific departments to four, involving the ‘thematic’ merging of key disciplines present within CNRS. In addition, the reform envisaged the creation of two “cross-sectional” (‘transverse’) departments aiming at strengthening the actions of CNRS researchers in these two very multidisciplinary fields. This change of course relates to the third aim mentioned in Section 4, i.e. that CNRS should promote interdisciplinary research, mobilise its expertise to help solve the major issues of interdisciplinary science in the coming decades.
Another novelty of this proposal was the possibility of linking laboratories in various institutes. In particular, around 55% of the laboratories will be attached to a single thematic department, whereas around 5% of the laboratories will be attached to more than 2 (3 or 4) departments – thematic or cross-sectional. In fact, a large part of the laboratories attached to one of the two “cross-sectional” departments will also be attached to one of the other four ‘thematic’ departments. Over 40% of the laboratories will be bilaterally attached to two thematic departments/cross-sectional departments including: MIPPU-Engineering, Chemistry-MIPPU, Chemistry-Life Sciences, Life Sciences-EDD, MIPPU-EDD.
The reasoning behind this change was to allow the creation of links between scientists working in CNRS in different disciplines by promoting an interdisciplinary approach, at the same time strengthening the policy on scientific issues of the institution. There were however some arguments against this change. Many believed that this specific division of scientific disciplines was artificial. Others, the advocates of interdisciplinarity, believed that the reform did not go far enough to promote it, i.e. that in fact the disciplinary status quo was retained.
In addition, there were many concerns about the massive size of what was planned to be the Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics and Universe (MIPPU) thematic department. This was probably the reason why this department was renamed as Mathematics, Physics, Earth and Universe (MPPU) when the reform was put in place (SITUATION B), as can be seen in the last line of Table 3. The only other changes between what was stated in the Reform and what was actually formed were that the Engineering cross-sectional department was renamed to “Science and Information Technology and Engineering (ST2I)” and that the “Man and Society” thematic department was renamed to “Social and Human Sciences (SHS)”, but these were probably very minor differences (see also Figure 3).
The way the reform was implemented meant that the Directors of the Departments were involved in the development of the policy on scientific issues of CNRS and the implementation of this policy in their department. Each department coordinated the actions of a coherent set of scientific activities involving multiple disciplines. Interdisciplinary research involving more than one department was determined by the Director-General on the advice of the Scientific Council and the approval of the Cabinet.
Table 3 KEY CHANGE 2: Scientific Departments
BEFORE THE REFORM (SITUATION A)
Eight departments
1.         Nuclear and particle Physics (PNC),
2.        Physical Sciences and Mathematics (SPM),
3.        Information and Communication Sciences and Technologies (STIC),
4.       Engineering Sciences (SPI),
5.        Chemical Sciences (SC),
6.       Sciences of the Universe (SDU)
7.        Life Sciences (SDV),
8.       Humanities and Society (SHS)
In addition, there were also two National Institutes:
– the National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3) and
– the National Institute for the Sciences of the Universe (INSU)
REFORM STATES:
Division into four thematic departments:
1.        Mathematics, computer science, physics and universe (MIPPU),
2.        Chemistry,
3.        Life Sciences and
4.       Man and society.
In addition there will be two cross-sectional departments
– Environment and sustainable development (EDD), and
– Engineering.
The two national institutes (IN2P3 and INSU) are attached to MIPPU
IMPLEMENTATION: CNRS in 2007 (SITUATION B)
CNRS brings together all fields of knowledge in six departments:
– Mathematics, Physics, Earth and Universe (MPPU)
– Chemistry
– Life Sciences (SDV)
– Social and Human Sciences (SHS)
– Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD)
– Science and Information Technology and Engineering (ST2I)
The two national institutes (IN2P3 and INSU) are attached to MPPU
It can be concluded from the above that this change was implemented as was envisaged in the paper written by Mégie and Larrouturou. This change cannot be considered currently successful however, given that in the reform that followed in 2009 the number of institutes increased once again to nine. Then, in 2010, there was a further division of one more institute in two. As a result, today, in 2012, there are 10 departments, now called institutes (SITUATION C, see also Figure 4 above).
Whereas three out of four thematic departments remained as they were and were simply renamed, the largest of the four, the Department for Mathematics, Physics, Earth and Universe (MPPU) was split into Institute of Physics (INP) and National Institute of Mathematical Science (INSMI). Both of the cross-sectional departments were retained but the EDD was renamed to Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE). On the other hand, the Science and Information Technology and Engineering (ST2I) was split into two Institutes after a proposal by scientists explaining the Engineering should be independent: there are now the institute for Information Sciences and Technologies (INSIS) and the National Institute of Mathematical Sciences (INSMI).
It is important to note that there is no distinction any more between the institutes, e.g. thematic versus cross-sectional, and the two National Institutes (IN2P3 and INSU) previously considered separate from the other departments are also now equivalent of the other institutes, losing a lot of their previous independence.
Thus, it can be concluded that the implementation of this part of the reform was originally successful but currently it can only be considered partly successful. The two cross-sectional institutes it created have indeed remained, but they are not any more “cross-sectional” since they are equivalent to all the other institutes. In addition, the efforts to concentrate research in a smaller number of institutes failed since today there is an even larger number of institutes than before the reform, due to the addition of these two new cross-sectional departments.
The reason why this part of the Reform was not considered unsuccessful was that the idea of interdisciplinarity, i.e. the idea that the structure of the organisation should promote collaborations between scientists that work in different disciplines, remained in the memory of the organisation. This is demonstrated by the fact that the idea was reborn a few years later as the “Office for Interdisciplinarity”.
The Office of Interdisciplinarity aims at the promotion, facilitation and coordination of interdisciplinary research, flexible, dynamic and responsive to the changing landscape of French research and higher education. This is strongly linked to the management of the ten institutes, since it is composed of (a) a steering committee (COPIL) composed of the deputy scientific directors (DAS) in charge of interdisciplinarity in each of the institutes, a representative of the Institute of Communication Sciences (ISCC) and a representative of the Office for Technological Resources and Skills (MRCT – a unique interdisciplinary structure with a direct operational role that initiates actions based on cross-cutting technologies), and (b) a committee of experts composed of personalities from the Scientific Council of CNRS and the academic world and industry.
KEY CHANGE 3: Creation of the Scientific General Directorate (DSG)
The creation of the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR – National Agency for Research also created in 2005) helped to clarify the scientific priorities for CNRS. But it was considered necessary that the ANR was not the only way to implement policy guidelines and scientific priorities. One of the changes that the Reform Larrouturou wanted to bring, was the strengthening of the capacity of CNRS to develop a policy on scientific issues, which would be clearly stated and in line with the guidance of national policy and societal expectations, and monitor its implementation. This policy should ensure that the work carried out in CNRS focuses on the “frontier science”, much of which is the interface of disciplines.
This task would be the responsibility of Scientific Director-General (DSG), a role similar to a Chief Scientific Officer and that had never existed before. In collaboration with a number of people (see second line in Table 4), including the Scientific Directors and Deputy Directors of the Scientific Departments, he would choose the priority areas in which to focus the scientific activities of CNRS, according to a vision of the scientific, technological, economic and social developments and according to the skills of its members and those of the players around it.
The aims of the Scientific Director-General and his team would be: the formulation and implementation of policy on scientific issues for CNRS, the monitoring of research evaluation and of the scientific guidance of laboratories, the scientific foresight, scientific cooperation and national structuring operations, European and international, coordination of departments, and CNRS policy in terms of scientific/technical information.
Table 4 KEY CHANGE 3: Creation of the Scientific General Directorate (DSG)
BEFORE THE REFORM (SITUATION A)
No direction consolidating the scientific departments and national institutes.
Key role of the eight scientific department Directors.
REFORM STATES:
A Scientific General Directorate (DSG), bringing together the 4 scientific thematic departments, the 2 cross-sectional departments and the 2 National institutes, set up next to the Director-General.
In addition to these, the DSG will include the following entities:
– Department for Scientific Information (DIS);
– Department for Science Policy Indicators;
– Department for Very Large Equipment And Research Infrastructures;
– Department for Partnerships And Regional Actions;
– Department for Planning And Management Indicators;
– Unit for Support, Advice and Institutional expertise.
IMPLEMENTATION: CNRS in 2007 (SITUATION B)
The responsibilities of the Scientific Director-General have been transferred to the Director-General
Whereas the clear advantages of this Reform were that it would strengthen CNRS’s capacity to develop a more clearly stated policy on scientific issues and the strategic approach of its scientific departments, many feared that this change will lead to loss of some of the power of the Directors of the Scientific departments. These fears were intensified because the Reform also envisaged the activities of new Inter-regional Directors who will operate “in connection with the scientific departments” (see KEY CHANGE 6). What was also unclear was the position of the Scientific Director-General in relation to the Minister and the ANR.
In 2005, Jean-François Minster was appointed as the first Scientific Director-General of CNRS. As shown in Table 4, however, the position of the Scientific Director-General was very short-lived, his responsibilities being transferred on the 1st of February 2006 to the Director-General of CNRS, who at the time was Arnold Migus.
Consequently, it will be safe to say that this part of the Reform Larrouturou was not successful, the position of the Scientific Director-General being abolished just after the reform was put in place. However, as in the case of the ‘cross-sectional’ departments, the idea that there should be a Scientific Director at the top-level management of CNRS was only put to sleep. With the new reorganisation of CNRS in 2009, where the Director-General and President positions were merged, the ‘new’ Director-General was given two Deputy Director-Generals, one in charge of Research and one in charge of Resources (see Figure 4). That is why in Table 1, even if this change was considered to have failed in CNRS as it was in 2007, the idea has re-emerged in the current structure of CNRS.
KEY CHANGE 4: Creation of an office in change of Strategy and Foresight
The Reform Larrouturou included an Office in charge of the formulation of the general scientific strategy for CNRS, its mission and foresight, in order to promote the thinking and coordinated debates on the subject of the development of the organization. All these changes are related to the first aim mentioned in Section 4, i.e. CNRS should be primarily a research institution increasing its activities in the field of scientific foresight and strengthening its capacity to develop and implement an inspiring policy on scientific issues.
The Decision No 050077DAJ of 7 October 2005 signed by the Director-General Larrouturou set up the Office for Strategy and Foresight. According to this decision, the Director of this Office is appointed by the Director-General on the recommendation of the President for a term of four years renewable once.  He/she would be reporting to both the President and the Director-General and its aims include:
          To stimulate scientific foresight of the establishment, especially in coordination with the Cabinet, the Director-General, the Scientific Director-General, scientific departments and institutes, the Scientific Council of the institution;
          To provide support to the president for the definition of the general policy of CNRS, proposed for approval by the Cabinet;
          To prepare for the introduction of an external evaluation committee, in accordance with Article 21-1 of Decree No. 82-993 of 24 November 1982 and to provide support to its work.
To achieve these aims, the Office could appeal, as appropriate, to all structures of CNRS, particularly to the Scientific Director-General, but also to people from outside CNRS. In addition, there would be at least four meetings per year involving the President, the Director-General, the Director of this Office, the Scientific Director-General and the Directors of the Scientific Departments and Institutes, devoted to the development and foresight of the policy on scientific issues of CNRS and in order to share information on its implementation. These meetings could have been extended, as necessary, to all or part of the Cabinet of CNRS, and more generally to the Chairman of the Scientific Council and other distinguished guests, French and European.
Table 5 KEY CHANGE 4: Creation of an office in change of Strategy and Foresight
BEFORE THE REFORM (SITUATION A)
No office in charge of strategy and foresight
REFORM STATES:
Office for the strategy and its future implementation that reports to both the President and Director-General
It may involve all the structures of CNRS (including the Scientific Director-General) and other distinguished guests.
Its Director is appointed by the Director-General on the proposal of the President.
IMPLEMENTATION: CNRS in 2007 (SITUATION B)
The Decision No 050077DAJ of 7 October 2005 signed by the Director-General Larrouturou sets up the Office for Strategy and Foresight
The first Director of the Office was Jean-Noël Verpeaux, university professor, appointed by the Director-General Bernard Larrouturou who started on the 10th of October 2005 for a period of less than a year. Didier Gourier, university professor, was then appointed by the Director-General Arnold Migus in the same role and remained from the 5th of July 2006 for a period of at least 3,5 years.
With the new reform of 2009, the Office for Strategy and Foresight was abolished. However some of its functions relating to the administration of the organisation were transferred to the Deputy Director-General in charge of Resources (see Figure 4). It is thought that the closest department to what used to be the Office for Strategy and Foresight is the current Department for Information Systems (DSI), which defines and implements information systems for the control and management activities of the institution, in combination with the Department of Human Resources. The link between these departments and the original Office for Strategy and Foresight is however very weak and that is why this change is not considered to have been incorporated in CNRS (see Table 1, SITUATION C).
KEY CHANGE 5: Linking the laboratories
As mentioned in the short description of CNRS, research in the context of the organisation is carried out in a very large number of research units or laboratories. Some of these laboratories belonge only to CNRS but a large percentage is linked to Higher Education institutions such as Universities. The negative aspect of the organisation as it was before the Reform is that there were no common management processes and structures for these laboratories.
The innovative change proposed was to bind each laboratory by a 4-year contract signed by CNRS and in the case of linked laboratories, to the other institution to which it is attached (Table 6). This change is related to the first aim mentioned in Section 4, i.e. CNRS should be primarily a research institution simplifying the operation of laboratories.
This contract would be a framework for:
          Defining the relationship between the laboratory and the institution(s) to which it is attached for the four years of the contract,
          Programming and monitoring of key multi-year commitments of CNRS and the partner institution,
       The convergence of the annual performance objectives/resources of the management of the laboratory and to those institutions to which it is attached.
The contract includes the mission statement of the laboratory director and is communicated to the evaluation bodies.
In addition, attention was paid to the maintenance of the relation between the goals and resources of the laboratories. The purpose was to enable the laboratory director to update a vision of his or her laboratory’s science projects, and to place the demand for funding against the reality of spending and resources realised and expected. This would assist the director of the laboratory on matters of internal organisation and possible sharing of funding and resources.
The emphasis on linked laboratories was paid in order to adapt the functioning of the laboratories to the necessary developments in Higher Education institutions and in the structure of CNRS, as described by the Reform. The administrative management of the laboratory will be in only one institution, whereas before different National and European projects in which the laboratory participated in were managed by different institutions, making the administrative and financial monitoring of the resources very complex.
In order to avoid some complaints, it was emphasized from the beginning that if a linked laboratory originally belonging to CNRS was run in the context of this scheme by the university, this did not mean that it would be “a laboratory of inferior level”, but it is simply a way to ensure full institutional support for the duration of the laboratory’s life, and thus to secure the efficient management of the laboratory’s everyday life.
In addition, the existence of a contract and the annual maintenance of a strong relation between goals and means would allow the director to have better visibility in the partner institution during the four-year period of the contract. The director will also be able to better fulfil his/her role as facilitator and collaborator with the internal organisation of the laboratory.
A number of objections were raised however. Many proposed that the management of the laboratories should not be decided independently, but should be shared by the Ministry including its Scientific, Technical andEducational Department (MSTP – Mission Scientifique, Technique et Pédagogique), which was the precursor of the current Agency for the Evaluation of Research andHigher Education AERES (Agence d’évaluation de la recherche et de l’enseignement supérieur).
Many also feared that the linked laboratories were not indeed linked, but a disguised form of CNRS-only units, given that CNRS is a very large research organisation, tipping the balance of power in the management of the laboratories towards itself. They thus doubted the willingness of CNRS to collaborate with the Higher Education Institutions. Others feared that the opposite would happen, in other words that CNRS would not be able to supervise in this way neither the resources nor the permanent staff of its shared laboratories. Finally, there were fears that differences between linked and non-linked laboratories will be accentuated by the introduction of contracts and common management procedures.
Table 6 KEY CHANGE 5: Linking the laboratories
BEFORE THE REFORM (SITUATION A)
A large number of organisations to which the laboratories of CNRS were attached to
No common steering of laboratories
REFORM STATES:
Each laboratory will be bound by a contract signed by CNRS and the other institution to which it is attached, as well as the laboratory director.
Maintenance of relation between goals-resources.
IMPLEMENTATION: CNRS in 2007 (SITUATION B)
Laboratories are created by decision of the Director General, after consultation with the National Committee for Scientific Research.
Research units within outside organizations may be associated with CNRS – the so-called “mixed” laboratories and their supervision is shared by CNRS and the partner institutions.
Each laboratory was composed of teams of researchers, engineers, technicians and administrative staff, teachers, researchers, postgraduate students and visiting scientists from abroad for limited periods of time.
In the context of these laboratories the following should be accomplished:
– Development and production of knowledge in all disciplines;
– Promotion of research results;
– Training and research;
– Dissemination of scientific information and technology.
The cycle of creation and renewal of the research units is four years. It is synchronized in the case of units associated or mixed with the timing of four-year contracting of the partnered higher education institutions.
This key change was implemented more or less as it was envisaged in the text of the Reform. In fact, the simplification of the management of joint laboratories has since continued, concurrently with efforts to reduce the numbers of the laboratories in order to concentrate research in fewer and larger research units. The policy of the institution continued to be on the lines that the management at the laboratory should be entrusted to a single institution.
In fact, it was a common objective of the Ministry, Research Institutions such as CNRS and Higher Education Institutions to harmonize the administrative management of research organizations and universities, because only in this way life will be made easier for laboratory managers and staff. This resulted in the concept of the so-called “Global Management Delegations (DGG)” a new type of linked laboratory. The concept behind the DGGs is that the management of the linked laboratories (reception, accommodation, contract management, administrative and financial management, etc.) will be under a single institutional umbrella, while personnel and investments will be coming from all partner institutions bound by the contract. It is assumed that the receiving institution (university or research organization) is able to offer to the directors of linked laboratories simplified and easy management procedures, aligned with best practices in management of research.
Despite this stated priority by all involved institutions, the initial rate of conversion of laboratories into DGG was limited. In 2009, significantly less than 1% of CNRS linked laboratories were actually turned into DGGs. However, the situation has improved in 2010 reaching more than 50 out of 889 laboratories being DGG. The target set is for 50% of CNRS units to have a mixed delegation of management by 2013.
In addition, CNRS emphasized the creation of an experimental platform of shared services with the University of Strasbourg which in 2011 brought together the management services of the university, CNRS regional delegation and CNRS mixed laboratories. This initiative is planned to be extended to other Universities.
For all these reasons, the proposed change in the organisation of laboratories by Reforme Larrouturou can be considered successful.
KEY CHANGE 6: Five inter-Regional Directorates
On the 15th July 2005 Larrouturou signed Decision No DAJ050044 for the formation and organisation of the new “Inter-regional Directorates” (‘Directions inter-regionals’), which would come to life from the 2nd of January 2006 onwards. This key change relates to the 7th aim mentioned in Section 4, that CNRS should invest in regional dynamics and clusters, in order to construct of regional centres of excellence, visible on the European and global scale and attractive for both the brightest students and scientists, and the most renowned and innovative companies.
Five Inter-regional Directorates were created whose directors would be part of the top-level management of CNRS:
(1)     Ile-de-France;
(2)    Northeast;
(3)    Northwest
(4)   South-East
(5)    Southwest.
The tasks of these directorates would be to ensure:
– Dialogue with the partners of CNRS in the areas under their supervision, such as Universities, schools and local communities;
– Installation and monitoring of regional centres and projects;
– Supporting the development of interdisciplinarity;
– Monitoring laboratories regarding the operational aspects of the region.
These Directorates will perform their tasks within the framework of the policy on scientific issues of CNRS, and in connection with the top-level management of Scientific Departments.
Each Directorate will have an Inter-Regional Director who will be chosen from among personalities in the fields science and technology and would be appointed by the Director-General of CNRS for a term of four years renewable once. As a result the Inter-Regional Director would be mainly responsible for ensuring the coordination of scientific activities in the Inter-Region rather than the administrative ones, in contrast to Regional Directors who could be either scientists or administrative staff and were equally responsible for both aspects of coordination in their region (Table 7). The Director of each Inter-Region would be a member of the Cabinet of CNRS and would represent CNRS at the regional level. The Regional Directors would become his deputies.
The aim of these directorates was to strengthen the capacity of CNRS to participate in regional dynamics in research and innovation, by strengthening links with partner institutions and local communities, at the same time keeping the National priorities of the organisation. In addition, through this new administrative level, higher education institutions and local communities will now have a single contact for CNRS close to them.
Table 7 KEY CHANGE 6: Five inter-Regional Directorates
BEFORE THE REFORM (SITUATION A)
Regional Delegates represented themselves at CNRS top-management level, but there was no representation of the national leadership of CNRS at the regional level
REFORM STATES:
Laboratories will be linked to five inter-Regional Directorates: South East, South West, Ile-de-France (Paris), Northeast and Northwest.
The Inter-Regional Director will be appointed by the Director-General and his team will be small, consisting of a few scientific staff, the Regional Directors and an Executive Secretariat.
Main tasks of the Inter-regional Director: dialogue with partners of CNRS in the region, installation and monitoring of regional projects supporting the development of interdisciplinarity and monitoring of the laboratories regarding the operational aspects of the region.
IMPLEMENTATION: CNRS in 2007 (SITUATION B)
CNRS is organized territorially into nineteen delegations, each under the responsibility of a Regional Director.
No Inter-regional Directorates
This part of the reform raised the strongest fears from the interest groups, who thought that this Inter-Regional division corresponds neither to a scientific logic, or a local political logic, but is just an additional layer of bureaucracy that might infringe on the role Directors of Scientific Departments. Questions were also raised on how these Inter-Regional Directors would be selected, since according to the Decision they would be selected by the Director-General of CNRS, whereas equivalent level positions such as University Presidents were elected by their peers.
As a result of these objections, two inter-region directors – Hombert Jean-Marie for the Southeast and Antoine Petit for the Southwest – were appointed by Bernard Larrouturou on an experimental basis from the 1st of January 2005. However, this otherwise very important element of the Reform of CNRS lasted only around six months, before being abandoned.
The idea behind this change did not disappear however, the need for more scientific advice at the regional level. As mentioned above, the Regional Directors could be principally either scientists or administrators. It seems that the percentage of scientists or administrators at the National level varied depending on the chronological period. In the last decade, the vast majority of Regional Directors were administrative staff, given that as time passed it was found that very advanced administrative abilities were required of someone in these positions. This created a need for more scientific advice at the regional level, which was expressed as Inter-Region Directorates in the Reform Larrouturou.
Even if these directorates never properly operated, the idea of a need for scientific advice at the regional level remained. As a result, to improve the scientific dialogue with strategic partners, CNRS set up a system of “Reference Scientific Directors” (DSR – ‘Directeur Scientifique Référent’). According to this system, each Director of Scientific institutes is assigned to a region. In this role, he or she is responsible to bring the unique voice of CNRS, the overall policy on scientific issues of CNRS at the regional level and contribute to improving the policy’s local roots. This is a new system that remains to be judged, but the first reactions from the point of view of the Directors of the Scientific Institutes were negative, since according to them their workload was already too heavy, even before the introduction of this system. They thus find that they are unable to properly execute their role as DSR.
6. Discussion
As summarised in Table 1, out of the six key changes of the Larrouturou Reform, some were implemented more successfully than others. Some have managed to survive many years later, others have been completely abandoned. In every case, however, the success or failure of these changes was dependent on a number of factors that were independent of the merits of faults of each change. These will be discussed in this final section.
The implementation of all the above changed was strongly sensitive to the succession of top-level leadership, in particular to who were the people that held the positions of Director-General and President of CNRS.
When “Our Project for CNRS” was written, the Director-General and President of CNRS were the authors of this paper, i.e. Bernard Larrouturou (2003-2006) and Gérard Mégie (2000–2004) respectively. Gérard Mégie, however, died prematurely due to extended illness, and was replaced before the approval of the reform by Bernard Meunier, a Chemist (2004–2006). Thus, even if the Reform was written by Mégie and Larrouturou, the implementation of the Reform was in the hands of Meunier and Larrouturou.
The latter collaboration did not go as well as would have been hoped for. Bernard Meunier resigned on the 5th of January 2006, making public his disagreement over the Reform plans of the agency’s Director-General Bernard Larrouturou. Internal tensions between the personalities in the top two positions in the hierarchy of CNRS have been common in the history CNRS: even if the president decides on the policy on scientific issues of the institution and the task of the Director-General is simply to implement it, tensions arise since in reality it is the Director-General that holds the reins. That is probably why these two positions have been now merged into one.
 The disagreements of Meunier on the subject of the Reform Larrouturou were that he regarded the changes it envisaged “as unnecessary management interference” [1]and that he considered that they would “weaken science at the agency”. He considered that “the new configuration of departments would complicate rather than simplify matters, especially since laboratories often belonged to several different departments at once”. He also questioned the way that “the cross-sectional departments would work”. Meunier was also one of the people that considered the Inter-Region Directorates (KEY CHANGE 6), as an “unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that hands excessive power to the regions, weakening scientific imperatives from central management”. He also felt that “they impose the risk of creating five little CNRSs”.
Whether Meunier intended to resign or just wanted to provoke a crisis that would force the government to dismiss Larrouturou is unknown, but this is what happened. Four days after his resignation, the Director-General Larrouturou was dismissed by the Minister for Higher Education and Research, François Goulard. This dismissal was not liked by members of the CNRS management team who were committed to the Director-General “to lead a dynamic and promising French research”, as they wrote to the President of the Republic. These included the directors of the six Scientific Departments and the five Inter-Regional Directors.
On the 11th of January 2006, Catherine Bréchignac (2006-2010), a physicist and previous CNRS Director-General, was appointed as the President in the place of Meunier. A week later Arnold Migus (2010) was appointed as Director-General. It was thus Bréchignac and Migus that took over CNRS during the difficult implementation period, which was instead spent to prepare a new reform, related to the changes that would be brought by the impeding law for Research and Higher Education in France. The latter came two years later so there was not enough time allowed for many of the key changes outlined above to settle.
Despite these difficulties, many elements of the original text of Mégie and Larrouturou were successfully implemented or have left their traces in the organisation of CNRS today. This was thanks to a number of positive factors.
First, the reform came after a long and multi-level consultation process which took place before the approval of the Reform by the Cabinet (see Section 3). The input given by these various groups, meant that when the implementation of the Reform was easier, since they had already specified the points that they thought would become obstacles in the success of the Reform. There were high levels of cooperation and co-culture on the goals of the involved players.
Second, it seems that Mégie and Larrouturou help high credibility amongst the stake-holders. Thus, it was easier for them to persuade the people that would later on implement the reform to carry out the necessary steps. This was of course however not the case for the President of CNRS, Meunier, who came at the end of the consultation process. As demonstrated however by the letter sent to the President of the French Republic by the members of the then Cabinet, Larrouturou enjoyed a lot of support in this Reform.
Finally, the external environment was also favourable. The ‘Cours de Comptes’ (Court of Auditors) released in 2001 a public report (published in January 2002) that included a number of problems with the organisation of CNRS. According to this report CNRS was suffering from a partitioning of the scientific departments, of organizational and operational procedures that had little evolved, of weakness of foresight and strategic vision and of weak links between laboratories and the department Scientific Directors, since they were becoming more and more embedded in the regional system.
In addition, in the last three decades, the national, European and international research environment has changed dramatically. The responsibilities of researchers in the broader society and economy are different than they were a generation ago. In addition, the necessary developments of tertiary education institutions and regional dynamics are also new inputs in the system. All these changes also necessitated a change in the organisational structure of an institution of such size and importance as the CNRS.
With the impeding Framework Programme 8, called ‘Horizon 2020’, CNRS will need to adapt once again. Annual evaluations by independent national organisations have also contributed new way ways that its organisation could be changed. Whatever changes may come, it seems that some parts of the Reform Larrouturou are here to stay, at least for the following decade, demonstrating that the value of the reform in the achievement of the goals of the organisation has been considerable.

[1] All quotes are taken from D. Butler “French research chief quits over reforms” Nature 439:122-123.
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