chapter  4
36 Pages

COMPETITIVENESS, QUALITY, SAFETY . . . . . . GETTING TO THE SOURCES OF PRODUCTIVITY AND

In the production system of the 1990s, instrumental rationality was used to attribute a single, ultimate value to changes in labor organization and the meaning of those changes. That value is competitiveness (Petrella, 1996). Competitiveness imposed itself as “natural” and primary, invalidating all reference to any other values that might pertain either to the economic production of energy or the social forms of such production. Competitiveness goes a long way to explaining the strong social consensus around France’s choice of nuclear energy. This legitimacy is summed up in a single slogan: “Nuclear energy or candles.” The search for ways of cutting production costs so as to enable EDF to maintain the competitiveness of nuclear energy as the energy of the future is therefore crucial to the enterprise as a whole. In 1994 an agreement was signed between the French state and its company EDF requiring the latter to reduce the price per kilowatt/hour by 1.5% a year.