Abstract: From Network to Hierarchy: Hachette, 1944-1980

Jean-Philippe Mazaud


This article focuses on the history of Hachette, the leading publishing house in France, from the 1930s to the 1970s. It tries to use the hypothesis to understand the evolving patterns of relations in which Hachette was embedded. I suggest that the publishing firms' behavior that secured the successes of the paperback business were embedded in commercial relations between peer entrepreneurs in the profession. The business of book publishing has changed since corporate hierarchies were introduced in the management of the publishing group at the end of the 1960s. Studying the case of the "Livre de Poche" brand, the paperback brand that Hachette launched in 1953, I make clear the role of decisive links between publishers and Hachette management. Perhaps the most important link is that the first were funded by the second, as they were giving some of the titles in their own catalogue to the "Livre de Poche" series. I suggest that these external links created specific organizational capabilities. In the 1970s these capabilities wereignored by the corporate managers whose work relied on formal rules that turned out to be in conflict with "old-fashioned" trading.