December 8, 2017

A/ Research specifications


Of course, the value to be measured stems from direct work "at the service of buildings and occupants". This part is already partly taken into account by existing tools.

However, the main production of FM services is not included. It is all about their impacts on the use of real estate and equipment resources, but also on skills, quality of social ties and cooperation, workers' health and territorial resources.

Therefore, the measurement will not only concern the result of production, but also its impact on the quality of the stock of material and immaterial resources.


1 - Research on service and usage economy

Although the concept of "post-industrial" economy may play down the importance of the industrial sector (production of tangible goods), our research project is part of a service and usage economy.

The research is meant to go beyond the limits of management instruments designed for industrial production, but unsuited to service production.

It focuses on the economic value "derived from the operation of a system whose productivity can only be measured in terms of improved and increased performance, inseparable from the end result. It is not the product that serves as a reference, but its use, its own working process and utility. The growth of productivity in the industrial economy can be measured in terms of the costs incurred in producing a tool or product. In the service economy, the evaluation of the same costs incurred without reference to a specific performance (not necessarily attached to products) borders on the absurd".[2].

The concepts of systems (or ecosystems) and use (or "functionality") are integral parts of our research. In the Sypemi White Paper,[3]we assume that the productivity of Facility Management systems must be built on the basis of their capacity to "produce productive individuals" through integration and cooperation, by changing:

  • directly or indirectly their condition,
  • their environments to make them "amenity-oriented".

Although all service activities are concerned, FM in particular is emblematic of a systemic performance offer, sought through integration, for the efficiency of use of work environments. The promise of value inherent in FM lies in its ability to ensure increased relevance in the use of facilities and in the impacts of a relational quality on services provided to occupants. [4].

Tangible goods, buildings and spaces (to be developed, maintained), equipment (to be maintained and optimised) and multi-service offers will be taken into account, not only for themselves, but also from a service point of view, i.e. "useful because properly used". To employ a formulation [5], FM does not consist solely of a set of services "at the service of products and equipment". Its productivity potential lies in its ability to put products, equipment, buildings and services "at the service of services", at the service of work.

The need for measurement in the service economy, to which FM belongs, mainly concerns the enhancement of productivity gains linked to relevance in the use of work spaces, and above all, the increase in the productive capacities of the inhabitants/occupants/end beneficiaries (see below).


2 - Regulating cooperation necessarily for the commodified part

Our ambition will be limited to the scope of activity of the B-to-B services packaged in the "Global FM" offer, an offer which incorporates all multi-technical and multi-disciplinary services to buildings, equipment and occupants. In fact, this sector is directly concerned by a systemic productivity challenge (or "functional" ecosystem) of outsourced activities (or activities in the process of being outsourced). What was previously "coordinated" through subordination links in traditional Fordist organisations, must now be managed through contracts, subcontracting relationships, etc., with the help of more open and more complex organisations, usually with several levels of subcontracting.

One initial observation is that principals (clients) and service providers, buyers and salespeople, managers and subcontractors, workers and final beneficiaries, etc., lack the tools to "measure" what must be measured, to develop what is currently neither countable nor measurable. This applies to comfort and even conformity, thermal and light atmosphere, and colours. These "outsourced" activities are now marketed between commercially and legally distinct entities pursuing objectives that do not necessarily converge. These services are the subject of monetized exchanges within the framework of contracts which may amount to several tens or even hundreds of millions of euros/year. Facility Managers and customers themselves recognise that available "measurements" only capture a part of the real economic value of the activity.

The productivity challenge is based on the specific characteristics of service activities. Immaterial and relational, co-produced, qualitative, immediate and intermediate, etc., FM production requires, through construction, an asset of trust and cooperation[6] to meet the needs for performance. Cooperation, trust, relevance, etc., both resources and assets, are the products and uses of "service manufacturing". These "strategic" assets are obviously not sufficiently enhanced by the categories and management instruments inherited from industrial logic.[6] to meet the needs for performance. Cooperation, trust, relevance, etc., both resources and assets, are the products and uses of "service manufacturing". These "strategic" assets are obviously not sufficiently enhanced by the categories and management instruments inherited from industrial logic.


3 – Implementing the social construction of the price of FM services

In order to have productive activity in partnership or cocontracting, there has to be an exchange. In order for the exchange to intervene, a compromise must be possible between the different actors; The client and the provider, the final beneficiary and the people working, the entity and the Territory....

These stakeholders describe production differently (clean, aesthetics, well-being). In the end, this compromise must be expressed in a monetary unit of account; a price.

This price is not given "naturally" by the market[7]. This price is not given "naturally" by the market[7]. Value exists before, outside and beyond the market. To deal with value, we will use the distinction between a business model and an economic model.

An economic model is a system (of production, distribution, etc.) through which work creates economic value, itself defined by the social utility of productive activity. Conversely, a business model is a system through which all or part of this value is monetised, in particular with a view to generating the necessary profit to continue the activity.

A gap can always emerge between the economic model and business model. Not every economic value is monetised. Other dimensions than economic value can be monetised. There are business models that allow monetary profits beyond the value of productions. This is the case of the business models of operators with a "predation" capacity due to dominant positions in the value chain (some so-called collaborative platforms or leading food retail firms relative to producers, for example). This is the case too for situations allowing the operation of annuities (monopoly, regulations, etc.). The reverse is also possible. We shared the observation in the afore-mentioned White Paper that this currently applies to the FM sector. Its economic model of the future comes up against an obsolete business model which consists in providing labour at an hourly rate through ratios per m². This gap puts the sector in difficulty in terms of monetising its value potential so that it is able, in quality and over time, to actually treat work like investing in the search for productivity gains.

Price formation is at the heart of this gap. It may be the result of a political decision; a consent to expenditure. It can be fixed "with a ladle" or, on the contrary, precisely elaborated through various calculations. It can be left to the market. It can voluntarily leave non-marketed "qualities" out of the exchange. In any case, there is nothing "natural" about it, it is a choice. Price is always a social construct.

To contribute to this construct, our research is part of a managerial understanding of pricing which regulates cooperation between independent partners. Measurement research must instrument price formation.

The objective is to instrument the processes of valuing (or "evaluating[8] "The objective is to understand the production of FM services through their useful effects beyond their costs. The challenge will be to approach valuation beyond evaluation, using a distinction borrowed from François Vatin and Michel Callon. " Valuation refers to the set of operations and practices by which a value is associated with a good, whereas valorisation denotes the constitution of this value as an economic value ".[9].


4 – Loosening the clamp on cost-constrained valuations

For this research, "management" cannot be reduced to a set of techniques. The management which consists in instrumenting by measuring value corresponds to an ambition that is both anti-bureaucratic and anti-liberal[10]. It seeks optimisation, not by the rule or the balance of markets, but by the control of policy-framed decision-making processes. The price is a compromise that must be legitimate and effective. Its formation results from more or less confrontational dialogues, more or less instrumented (conceptually and institutionally). To be "fair" and efficient, this compromise is the result of a work of decisions taken by the right people (having competences), at the right time, well instrumented and endowed with the right information.

In this field, in particular, FM and more generally the services suffer from the shortcomings of industrialist and financialised managerial instrumentation.

This is because if "commodified" without a sufficient valuation effort, the services:

  • are reduced to quasi goods (badly described for example by SLA),
  • see their value qualified by their cost (plus a margin all the more conflicting as price-based competition is exacerbated).

The non-measurement of the production of services (FM) is one of the reasons why the monetary valuation of trade is only achieved, by default, through reference to costs[11]. The FM business model is then confined to the narrow path of an ability to achieve margins in a "manpower leasing" activity..., at the lowest cost.

This state of affairs is coupled with the existence of asymmetrical power relations to the advantage of "clients" in contexts of stiff competition. It is also noteworthy that exchanges take place on markets that are all the more "impure and imperfect" [12] as work spaces are immovable and, thus, dated, located, territorialised and barely modifiable in practice.


5 – Instrumenting conditions for service productivity gains.

One consequence is that the work implemented by the FMers is invisible.

It is invisible for management tools that are sometimes developed within the limit of "quantophrenia" [13]And who still know only valued hours at constantly revised rates. Invisible, the jobs of people working services to buildings and occupants are difficult to fill. They are not perceived as qualified. The related human resource is not conceived as rare, in a context of massive and sustainable underemployment, coupled with ease of recourse to posted workers, for example. Invisible, this work is dominated by unfavourable scales of nobility in the mechanisms of social hierarchy reducing the service (an experience yet political) to servitude (by association with the servant)[14].

Invisible, this work presents characteristics of difficult working conditions for some (especially in the time constraints), subtle and engaging in terms of the subjective commitment for the most part, because of the dimensions Relational activities. Invisible, lived as available, under-qualified, tedious and engaging..., the work is mistreated. As FMers, the people working who exercise it are undervalued and abused. This explains why, despite relatively modest qualifications and a very high level of unemployment, the FMers find a recurring difficulty in recruiting and retaining their employees despite the most frequent offers in TDCi.

Loosening the constraints contributing to the abuse of work requires capacities and prospects for productivity gains. Productivity is a ratio between means (valued in monetary terms) and production. As long as it escapes more efficient measures, based on more relevant "value qualifications", it will be permanently exempt from a potential valuation beyond costs.

Beyond the social consequences on work, performance issues are present. FM services are always co-produced. Co-production performance requires trust and cooperation. Our observation is that the current conditions for valuing exchanges contradict the need for cooperation, including respect for work. The tools we have today are not only insufficient. Based on mistrust, they are counter-productive. They participate in denying the requirement of co-production and the conditions of cooperation. They create sustainable conditions for "under-efficiency" in organisations and work. They contribute to harmful tensions for the quality of "cooperation" and the health of participants.


 6 - Co-constructing measurement instrumentation through experimentation

The search for operating concepts and management instruments that do not renounce metric forms (or "metrology", integrating the calculated quantity and the judged quality) for optimisation and governance purposes, does not necessarily mean that the objective will be to measure everything.

On the one hand, we do not affirm under any circumstances that everything is measurable and even less that measurement is the only relevant way of representing reality, even for management purposes. The research should help to understand (categorise) what will remain unmeasured, including what is worth and yet we do not want to count or charge, while imagining the processes through which they will be valued.

On the other hand, the purpose of our research indicates in itself an assumed limit to its ambition. The instrumentation and concepts that are the subject-matter of our research, as well as associated methodologies, certainly have as their objective the "reflection of reality" in a logic of positive knowledge production. They will have, as a virtue, an increased capacity for dialogue in a logic of action.

In other words, the concepts to be developed and the targeted instrumentation will be worth as much through their dialogical capacities (instrumenting dialogue and decision-making) as heuristic capacities (producing knowledge, clarifying reality, telling the truth). Taking research ourselves as one service activity among others, it will immediately integrate the question of the use of these measures in situation, by the real actors, with "instituted" and manipulable evaluation tools/devices. From this point of view, experimentation will be essential to the research. It must allow the (measurement and management) tools to be tested and distinguished favourably for their qualities of appropriation, including beyond their only quality of conceptual robustness or theoretical quality.


7 – A multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder system

This research will associate:

  • Academic or non-academic researchers from different disciplines,
  • Several companies, clients and service providers.

The current problematisation phase suggests work in a broad field of labour sciences; sociology, political science, economics, law, history and semiology.

Thales (controller and initiator) and other current members of the Consortium are not meant to remain the sole sponsors of this research. Other clients and interested service providers may find a place as active contributors and partners in the reflection and experimentation.

This work is already fuelled by various Thales works including:

  • Emmanuel Gilson's study on the relevance of the indicators currently used at Thales,
  • Nathalie Lhermitte's dissertation (Master 2 UVSQ) on the conditions of cooperation between clients and service providers on 22 Thales sites, September 2016.
  • Two exploratory meetings with Isabelle Ferreras and the drafting of a first memo (June, August 2016).

We will search, for works, some:

  • Socio-political scientists (Isabelle Ferreras),
  • Service economists (Gadrey, Du Tertre),Economists of the services (Gadrey, Du Tertre),
  • "Pollination" and externalities economists (Yann Moulier Boutang),
  • Labour sociologists (Pascal Ughetto)
  • Usage or functionality economists (Du Tertre, i-conomists),
  • Management sociologists (Patrick Gilbert, Eve Chiapello),
  • Company managers (Blanche Segrestin and Armand Hatchuel on company, commercial company...)
  • "Economic sociologists" (Pierre François),
  • Company law, labour law subcontracting and service contract experts (Auriane Lamine)...
  • Works on uncertainty, the immaterial, from André Gorz to Orio Giarini and Walter R. Stahel, ("Les limites du certain, affronter les risques dans une économie de service - The limits of certainty, handling risks in a service economy", 1990), digital transition (Pierre Giorgini)...