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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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“Change” in La Poste. A New Idea?: Muriel Le Roux


Muriel LE ROUX

The idea of transferring or borrowing managerial practices from the private sector in order to reform, modernize or adapt to current needs the way public companies function and the State’s role in them has gained ground in France over the years. Numerous currents in opinion have emerged outside of the usual partisan structures because, as was pointed out by Roger Fauroux,1 no party, left or right, can claim to have the right recipe. The history of the reforms and changes made to la/La Poste2 illustrates this. Moreover, the idea that the State, its public services and state-owned companies must provide the services due at the lowest cost has gained increasing support from citizens. The State must ensure that its administrations and state-owned companies are efficient and results-orientated, to use a terminology that comes from the corporate rather than the administrative world.

At the same time, we expect the State to guarantee our nation’s solidarity through its public services, notably those examined in this volume. The state’s senior civil servants have also contributed solutions and theories to this debate, and have often joined forces to draw up the principles of reform. They often think that it is up to the State itself to decide how to manage these change that will introduce the notion of responsibility at different levels. Overall, and by comparing what “our State”3 has been able to do by practicing a form of “benchmarking”, as our colleagues of the...

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