Many happy returns, Michel!
It is a pleasure to join with others to congratulate Michel Crozier on his 90th birthday. I was surprised, though, that this is indeed his age; I had somehow always taken us to be coetaneous. The last time we met to my knowledge was at the 10th EGOS Colloquium, held in Vienna in 1991, where we both delivered featured lectures that were subsequently published as chapters 1 and 2 in the volume Societal Change between Market and Organization. This may be our only joint publication, but there is a strange parallelism in our intellectual trajectory.

In the early 60ies of the past century we were both organizational sociologists; Michel published Le Phénomène Bureaucratique, and I edited the volume Bürokratische Organisation. The Crozier/ Friedberg volume L’Acteur et le Système has always been a favourite text I often referred to. The finding, for instance, that the strategic importance of an organizational function rather than the formal rank of those performing it confers real power has applications far beyond the theory of organizations. Michel and I were both members of the ISA research committee on organizational sociology. I remember that it was Michel who suggested that, in view of our distinct European tradition, a separate group of European organizational sociologists might be formed. That was, I believe, the birth hour of EGOS. I even have an eidetic image of the occasion: I can still see the two of us standing and talking in the afternoon light near a high window in what - in my memory - looks like a reception room in some chateaux; it must have been at an ISA conference, but I remember neither when nor where that took place.

In the 70ies and 80ies we both moved from the meso-level of organizations to the macro level of societies and became interested in issues of political governance. I remember the impression La Société Bloquée, the earliest in Michel’s series of related publications extending to Etat Modeste, Etat Moderne made on me. I moved in this time from concern with policy-making and policy implementation to questions of political steering, self-regulation and governance. With our roughly similar intellectual trajectory we both clearly responded to issues and changes transcending the national.
In my eyes Michel has never been an exponent of what is known in Germany as the “French school”; at least initially, we were both influenced by American sociology. And yet our different nationalities surfaced in one of our early encounters – the first encounter with Michel of which I have retained an eidetic image. It must have been around 1960. I see the two of us sitting in what I remember as Morris Janowitz’ kitchen - in Chicago? Michigan? I told Michel of my teenage experience with the French occupation forces in a Bavarian village in the early summer of 1945. What I told was not to the honour of white French men, and Michel was visibly hurt and angry. I don’t remember whether in response he reminded me of the well-known reasons for the presence of French troops in Germany. Here were two aspiring academics and convinced Europeans, briefly caught in the emotional tensions that are part of the troubled French-German history. I wonder whether Michel recalls the incident at all; I probably still do so because even then I felt ashamed for bringing the topic up in a conversation between colleagues. The decades of friendly collegiality that followed this encounter luckily have a parallel at the international level, in the development of the German-French “axis” within Europe.
Many happy returns, Michel!

Copyright Renate Mainz- 22 novembre 2012
Renate Mayntz is a German sociologist. She was director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, and is now director emeritus.
Mayntz studied in the United States, and in 1957 received her doctorate from the Free University of Berlin. She taught at the Deutsche Hochschule für Verwaltungswissenschaften Speyer and the University of Cologne before founding, in 1984, the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies. In 1999, she won the Schader Award, Germany's highest accolade for a social scientist,[3] and in 2004 she was awarded the Bielefelder Wissenschaftspreis.
Her areas of research include social theory, management policy, development and application of policies, the development of technology, science and the development of science and policy, and transnationals and the structures of transnational governance.
Source : wikipedia