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Post Offices of Europe 18th – 21st Century

A Comparative History


Edited By Muriel Le Roux and Sébastien Richez

The cursus publicus, established by the Roman Empire to connect all its conquered territories, may be considered to be the ancestor of all modern post offices. Therefore, mail service networks are part of an organization, dating from Antiquity, which is common to the entire European community.
From the 18 th century onwards, the French mail service network may be divided into three successive phases. First, the consolidation of the transportation system that was being set up. Second, the development of the system’s ability to deal with increasing traffic (through broader human resources). Thirdly, the diversification of its operations and the development of its technical modernisation.
What was the situation in other European countries? Are there similarities and differences in how their networks were set up and organized? Finally, how did European Post Offices cooperate with each other in spite of their differences?
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The Paces of “Change” at the RATP: Michel Margairaz



The reason that I have a certain degree of legitimacy to talk here about reforms in public corporations and bodies is that during the 1980s, I undertook research and produced a summary of the history of the RATP (Paris city transport authority). It was a very interesting experience, because it meant looking at developments, both older and more recent, within the company at a time when its new management team was attempting to emancipate themselves from the company’s history. It was the first step undertaken by a forecasting unit which was called “Network 2000”. The question we were trying to address was this: “to plan for the future, we need to start by looking at the past to see how our plans fit in with the way the institution has evolved, and maybe to adapt them a little on this basis”. Looking at past and future at the same time in this way taught me a great deal, both about the history of the RATP and about its situation at the time, a period that was marked by a number of major changes that we saw being implemented.

In light of the dynamism of the other approaches to the issue, the main contribution that historians can make is a better view of the time scales involved. The manager is the person who, thanks to favourable circumstances, makes a diagnostic as regards the end of an old cycle or the start of a new one....

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