Abstract: Decision Network : Who Decided What in the Building of the Paris Metropolitain, 1898-1920

Pascal Desabres


In this paper, I study decision-making during the building of the Parisian subway. I sought the answers to questions concerning important decisions such as: who was the most important actor, among a trio that included private entrepreneurs, the capital's complex double Administration, and the public works engineers (City employees working closely with the entrepreneurs to build a new mass transportation system in Paris)? Reviewing all the daily documents (such as engineers and Prefect's reports, entrepreneurs' letters, and complaints) helps provide a response to this question. A careful reading allows us to discover how and why the entrepreneurs formed an alliance against the City, and if the polite relations between City and Department men (the administrative territory) were harmful or beneficial. One figure stands out among the engineers: Fulgence Bienvenüe, whose influence went beyond his function as Chief Engineer, even as he defied the rules. I also hope to contribute to the understanding of the use of the notion of network in public works history, for which there is plentiful evidence in the administrative papers, if arranged in a meaningful order.

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