Coping with the Second Industrial Revolution: Fragmentation of the French engineering education system, 1870s to the present
|Title||Coping with the Second Industrial Revolution: Fragmentation of the French engineering education system, 1870s to the present|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2009|
|Secondary Title||Engineering Studies|
|Keywords||20th century, engineering education, France, history, Second Industrial Revolution|
Comparative analysis shows that the degree of fragmentation in the engineering education system in contemporary France is far greater than in countries with comparable social and economic structures. This article is a first attempt to analyse this peculiarly French characteristic. It takes the reader back to the 1870s when the French engineering education system embarked upon this process of fragmentation. Indeed, from the Second Industrial Revolution (1870-1914) up to the present, the needs of the French economy in terms of specialized engineers were systematically met, not by overhauling existing institutions, but by creating new (smaller) ones which took their place in an increasingly fragmented and overtly hierarchical system. Why did the French engineering training system evolve in this way? I attempt to answer this question in two different stages. First, I provide an historic account of the main developments in French engineering education between 1870 and the present time. In the second more theoretical part of the article, I use insights provided by ’path dependency theory’ to propose a global (albeit partial) explanation for the fragmentation of the French engineering educational system.