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SUBSIDIARITY BASED MANAGEMENT AN ESSAY Presented to the UNIAPAC BOARD On September 22. 2012 As a base of a common work to be launched

by Pierre LECOCQ Chairman UNIAPAC


Defining clearly the concept of subsidiarity is always difficult. One good way is to compare the two concepts of “delegation” and “subsidiarity”. Delegation and subsidiarity are two concepts which

indeed resemble each other but which are actually are quite opposite. In the delegation concept, the leader considers that the information, the capacity, the decision and the action are between its hands and that, gradually, according to the development of his interlocutor and of the quality of the relation, it transmits them to lead the other to be more responsible. But at any time, the leader can take back its decision power. In subsidiarity, it is exactly the opposite. The leader considers that the individual or the collective entity which he is responsible for, is able to assume the information, the capacity, the decision and the action in autonomy and interdependence within the limits of the extend of the lower level actual field of action. In this concept the leader will take back its decision power but will take the risk of the lower level autonomous decision. One could speak about a “reverse delegation”: the lower level, on his initiative, transmits to the higher level what it considers and decides not to be within its realm of responsibility. It is thus about a complete reversal of the relation, and responsibility for the two parts. The concept of subsidiarity takes its roots in the Social Doctrine of the Church as a direct consequence of its most important principle: the paramount dignity of the person. In its recent paper on the “Vocation of the Business leader” the Pontifical Council of Justice & Peace has the following lines on subsidiarity:

Create subsidiary structures: The principle of subsidiarity is rooted in the conviction that, as images of God, the flourishing of human beings entails the best use of their intelligence and freedom. Human dignity is never respected by unnecessarily constraining or suppressing that intelligence and freedom. The principle of subsidiarity recognizes that in human societies, smaller communities exist within larger ones. For example, a family, as a community, is part of a city, which in turn is part of a county, a state or province, then a nation, and so on. The principle insists that the freedom of those closest to the decision to be made should not be arbitrarily constrained from doing so. A higher authority should never intrude on the decision-making of a lower authority if the lower authority can make sound decisions that also respect the common good. While the principle of subsidiarity was originally applied to the encroaching power of the state, it is a principle that applies just as well to business organizations. People develop in their work when they use their intelligence and freedom to achieve shared goals and to create and sustain right relationships with one another and with those served by the organization. The more participatory the workplace, the more likely workers will develop. They should have a voice in the work they do, especially in the work that they do on a day-to-day basis. Initiative, creativity, and a sense of shared responsibility, should be fostered.

The principle of subsidiarity has multiple implications for business. It calls leaders to use their power at the service of their collaborators. A key question for all leaders is whether their authority serves the development of their people. Subsidiarity calls business leaders to execute three key tasks: - To clearly define the realm of autonomy and the decisions to be made at lower levels, leaving these as wide as possible. The limit on them is set where the effect of the decisions goes beyond the ability of the specific level in question to have access to the right information to take the decision, and/or where the consequences of the decisions will have significance outside of the realm of responsibility of that level. - To choose, train, and inform their employees, making sure that they have the right tools, training and experience to carry out their tasks. - To accept that the lower levels will make their decisions in total freedom and, thereby, to take upon oneself, in full trust, the risks of the lower level’s decisions. Subsidiary business structures therefore nurture workers’ personal responsibility and allow them to attribute good results to their sincere engagement. This last point, taking on the risk of the lower level’s decisions, is what makes subsidiarity different from delegation. One who delegates confers power, but can take it back at any time. In such a situation, employees on a lower level may feel more comfortable that in a situation governed by the principle of subsidiarity, but less likely to grow and accept their full dignity. Under the principle of subsidiarity, employees on a lower level who are trusted, trained, experienced, know precisely their responsibilities, and are free to make decisions, can fully use their freedom and intelligence, and thus are enabled to develop as people; they may be perceived as “co-entrepreneurs.” For business leadership, this is very demanding. It calls for restraint, and a humble acceptance of the role of a servant. Christian leaders will appreciate this role from the witness of Jesus at the Last Supper.


Social science has deepen throughout the XXth century the analysis of the person behaviour in a direction which without using the word is illustrating how much true subsidiarity does lead the person towards its full inner development. The three following examples are good illustrations. Alfred Schutz, the eminent Austro-American sociologist highlighted in the thirties the conditions for a person to commit itself: - 1: to be recognized as trusted person, “I am loved”; “I am important”; “I exist” This gives the sense on ‘Inclusion” (I am IN vs being OUT) - 2: I have been told the “rules of the games”; “I am competent”; “I am responsible” This gives the sense of “Control” These two conditions will lead to the person to engage itself, to act and create - 3: I am open to the others, I like them, I am conscious of them. The sense of “openness” This third condition leads to the ability of problem solving which requires the relationship to the other persons. This could be a wonderful presentation of subsidiarity based management. It is indeed about recognizing fully the person, giving it the feeling of being loved and recognized but at the same time to give it the “rules of the game” allowing the person to fully engage itself in full personal responsibility. We will see later how much this does illustrate the attitude of God towards His people: indeed a wonderful over abundant love leading Him, the Almighty, to fully respect our freedom (we are loved and trusted; condition 1) but He also tells us “you shall not eat the fruit of the tree” or the 10 commandments (we are given the “rules of the game”; condition 2). Douglas Mac Gregor, the eminent professor of management psychology at the MIT in the fifties became famous through his X and Y theory to analyze leader behaviours which can be summarize as follows offering a theoretical background to management behaviours: Theory X It not natural to mankind

Beliefs of the leader towards work Consequences on It must be exogenous motivation Necessity to motivate from the outside Consequences on The leader must act management styles to motivate He must control and give sanctions positive or negative

Theory Y It is natural to mankind It can be endogenous The person is naturally motivated The leader must create the conditions allowing the person to manifest itself its motivation The person is selfcontrolling and selfsanctioning

Theory Y does encompass the key characteristics of subsidiarity but does not refer to the roots of the belief in the Y behaviours as subsidiarity principle does in the Social Doctrine of the Church deeply anchored in principle of the paramount dignity of the person, created free by God and called to share His divine nature. Vincent Lenhardt, the French specialist of Management coaching in his book “Collective Intelligence in Action” introduces the notion of “Ressource Oriented Manager” as explained in the following extracts: The resource oriented manager The resource oriented manager does not set aside his/her position as order giver, but “fulfills” their identity at a higher logical level. Fundamentally, he/she centers on a position which pays more attention to the interpersonal process and empowering colleagues than merely to technical content. He/she is positioned in a logic of empowerment of his/her colleagues. The leader is there to enable his/her colleagues, often more competent than him/her, to have the means to put their skills to work. The leader’s attitude is more of someone who listens than someone who provides solutions. He/she is more interested in the proposals of colleagues and their ideas than his/her own… In other words, the Ressource Oriented Manager attitude is rooted in the logic of Mc Gregor’s Theory Y, whereby work is natural to Man and his motivation is mainly endogenous (“people are naturally motivated, they just need to be allowed to use this motivation, and management is based on self-control”), much more than McGregor’s Theory X, whereby work is not natural to Man, motivation must remain exogenous (“people need to be motivated”) and management must be made of control and positive or negative reinforcement. The cursor model illustrated in the figure below, shows the need for a contingent management. Clearly, the difficulty resides in the fact that the leader responsible for a budget, a corporate representative, or who simply has a performance obligation must remain a controller to the end ; but he/she can function in a role and relationship type where he leaves real room for talking and the other’s initiative, by generating a relationship of parity. It becomes necessary for the leader to be able to function as a simple participant in a group.

The cursor model illustrates all the complexity of one’s own attitude towards management responsibility and the necessary ability to also accept the Principle of Reality and adapt one’s management attitude to the every day context of management.


All the Judeo-Christianity is crossed by this vision of the creation in becoming in which Man is comissionned as Co-creator with God. The Jew which respects Shabbat, like the Christian Sunday, rests in God and with God, the 7th day after having contributed during the 6 previous days to the Co-creation of the World. The revelation of Jesus-Christ which comes true in the multiple scenes of the Gospel, the transfiguration, the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the sermon on the mountain, the resurrection … etc offer an unsurpassable model of leadership: the model of the servant leader through the scene of the washing of the feet. One could multiply the examples and the references as the Pentecost when around the Virgin Mary the community of the Apostles receives the Holy Spirit and speaks in languages and offers a representation of the mystical body. In prolongation, the community of the Apostles where each one takes part and receives according to its needs, offers a model of human community, prefiguring the mystical body. This climate of communion is an a living model for performing teams. In term of dynamism, the spirituality of the Grace offers an anthropological target where the passage of the “old man” towards “the new man” is located in the sublime formula of St Irenee as François Varillon remains us: “Deus homo factus is, ut homo fieret Deus” (God was made man so that man is made God). But this process is not only a humanistic step. It is not about an auto-divination for the Christian. The Christian is not alone, it takes part in the Trinitarian life irradiates him. From François Varillon: “Man is essentially made of divisinable, it is a freedom in future of deification” “What is the difference between a believer and a non believer? … the non believer obeys its conscience; the Christian while obeying his conscience loves somebody who loves him. For the Christian the human conscience is inhabited, inhabited by an Other who loves us.” “When I work as a man, work which consists in humanizing the relations between men, Christ does work as God. He deifies what I humanize.” “The result is humano-divine and this is what we call our life and our eternal happiness”. The Rise of Jesus-Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost also open a view for the attitude which the leader must take in subsidiarity: by paraphrasing Hölderling, one finds an invitation there; “The manager creates leaders like the ocean creates continents: by withdrawing itself”.


Starting from a global and microeconomic perspective of the two worlds (industrial and postindustrial), the table below draws the logics which underlie them and the organizations which represent them Macroeconomic levels Approach Logic Organisation Team development stages Manager personalities Person stages of growth The Cursor

Industrial era planification targets Order & obedience Taylorist & mechanical Collection of individuals

Transitory era

Postindustrial era

Groups linked by solidarity

constructivism emergence Co-responsibility Systemic & complex Performing teams linked by a sense of mission

The order giving manager

The resource oriented manager

Meaning bearing manager

Homo faber Individuals developing their talents

Homo Amans Beings in relation

X theory Delegation Control Personal power


Homo Patiens Beings in communion led by the sense of Common Good Y theory Subsidiarity Trust Power in the other

Each logical level has its specificity, and, at the same time is in interaction with the others. The teams and the individual managerial identities which result from this are confronted with the necessary change of paradigm: to pass from “complicated” to the “complex”, i.e. to live and assume the paradoxes and contradictions of this space. It is not only the question to pass from one world to the other, but to permanently manage the coexistence of these two worlds, with the paradoxes which result from that: the handling of the cursor and its difficulties represent the “toll” of the crossing of complexity for the Manager in charge (Order Giving Manager, Resource Oriented Manager and Meaning Bearing Manager). We see in the preceding diagram the various logical levels that subsidiarity must treat: An approach which passes from planning to the constructivism, a logic which passes from order and obedience to the co-responsibility, and an organization which transforms itself and assumes the complexity. The teams, the managerial individualities, the entities will have to pass by a transforming process and the handling of the cursor will oblige the actors to assume the corollaries of complexity which are permanent ambiguity, (“I control and I trust”), permanent ambivalence (“I invite to the creativity but I want that my ideas are taken into account”) and the paradox impossible to circumvent of the relation Manager-collaborator (“I help you to be alone”, “I offer my competence by subjecting it to the competence of the other”, “I invite the other to be “spontaneously” creative”… as many paradoxical injunctions constitutive of complexity.

The central paradox which governs all the others can be expressed as follows: “to keep a certain control, it is necessary to give up a large part of control�.

With regard to the management teams and the visions, it is a question of passing from: - A team giving orders to a resource team carrying sense - A logic of Order and Obedience (adapted to a world of predictable and complicated) to a logic of co-responsibility (adapted to a world of uncertainty and complexity) - A top-down vision to a shared and co-developed vision - A vision made of numbers and targets to a vision of the complexity of the stakes and of their interactions.


In Collective Intelligence the Manager must permanently circulate among the three types of the managerial identities: Order Giving Manager, Resource Oriented Manager and Meaning Bearing Manager. The Manager has the heavy task to integrate these three levels of identity by knowing to remain an Order Giving Manager while accomplishing himself as Resource Oriented Manager then as Meaning Bearing Manager. If Collective Intelligence implies stages which the leader must cross, the collaborators also must permanently adjust to various stages, from the first stage as mainly executants in front of the Order Giving Manager, to contributors forces of proposition with the Resource Oriented Manager and then with Meaning Bearing Manager to take the posture of carriers of the stakes and contributors in the construction of visions in constant reconfiguration. Development Dimensions The “Important”

Job Content

Professional and Managerial

Order Giving Manager

Process and Relations Resource Oriented Manager

Sense and Vision Meaning Bearing Manager


The “Essential”

Psychologic and existential Spirituality

Human Being Type

Homo Faber

Homo Amans

Homo Patiens

Talent developing Being

Relation Being

Communion Being

Self Centered

Centered on the other

Centered on the community

In the society, at the regional or national level, and in the political authorities, there is a tendency when one speaks about the “place of Man in the company”, to think of employment or of the plague which unemployment represents, while being conscious of the economical, social and existential stakes for the actors concerned, reducing our vision of the human being to the” homo economicus”. However, this identity of the” homo economicus” includes other levels of identity: as identified in the above table… Each one of these levels is intricate and in interaction with the others.

We also note that the level of the development of the “Important “(the professional, managerial and organizational aspects) can largely contribute to a development of the”Essential”(the psychological, existential and spiritual aspects of the person): - “Homo Faber” which develops his competences, his “talents” by what it does. “Homo Amans” which develops its otherness and its dimension as a “relation being”. - “Homo Patiens” which develops its “oblativity” by putting himself at the service of Common Good building transcendence at the heart of its immanence. The identity transformation of the actors supposes the comprehension of the managerial anthropology to be built. This is true primarily the leader (CEO), but because of his “modeling”, and of the culture which it generates, it also invites the other actors of the organization to become in their turn co-responsible and in charge of carrying the Collective Intelligence.


Many examples drawn from the Gospel, Acts of the Apostles and history of the Church even if many counterexamples remain unfortunately present in the mind, make it possible to see that the Church, in its everlastingness, knew to grow beyond its function missionary, with particularly fertile stages by living Subsidiarity Principle in its organization and in the definition of its member roles. The overall organization of the Church, from the Pope to the faithful with only two intermediary levels, the Bishop and the parish priest is by itself a full illustration of a subsidiarity based organization. If the dogma is collectively set, each diocese, with the Bishop at its head is from an organizational and management point of view an autonomous church. To come back on Schutz analysis, the Church takes the risk of the person of the Bishop (he feels trusted) and has defined the “rules of the game”. He can engage himself fully.. Another example can be taken from the conciliar model present throughout the Church history and more particularly Vatican II which opened the Church to a very broad dialogue and an actualization of the tradition as well as to a broad opening to the environment, to the world, and to other religions. This happened although the Vatican organization was not at all expecting such a broad evolution. The dogma was there to set the “rules” but for all the other questions, the trust was put in the bishop assembly. The monastic model sometimes referred to as the oldest multinational dates from the 5th century. It radiated in the whole world, made Saint-Benedict owner of Europe and gave to work its right place (the motto of the Benedictines “Ora et Labora”). One will find there the place of work as an integral part of the life of the monk, but secondary compared to the sense: the prayer and the celebration of the divine office “to which nothing must be preferred” according to Saint-Benedict. The rule to choose the Abbot, his required attitude and the glance towards the other in the welcome as illustrated in the following abstract of the St Benedict rule are good examples of a subsidiarity based organization. THE APPOINTMENT OF THE ABBOT For the appointment of the abbot, one will always observe this principle appointing the one which the community inspired by the fear of God, will have chosen by mutual agreement, or by even a weak majority of the community, with the healthier judgment… Once named, the Abbot will always consider the responsibility he received and for which he will have to account for his management. He will know that he must serve and not enslave… He will always have in his mind his own fragility and will remember that he should not crush the split reed. In that we do not say that it must let grow the vices. No, he will cut them off with prudence and charity, in the manner which seems to him to most adequate for each one, as we already said: he will seek more to be liked that to be dreaded. It will not be agitated and anxious, neither excessive nor stubborn, neither jealous nor suspicious, because otherwise he would never be in rest.

In the instructions he gives, it will be far-sighted and circumspect; and in what he prescribes, whether things of God or things of the world, he will use of understanding and measure, thinking at the discretion of the Patriarch Saint Jacob who said: “If I were to make my herds suffer more in walking, they would all perish in one day�. Attentive with these testimonies and others still on discretion, the mother of all virtues, he will balance so well all the things which the forts have to wish and which the weak ones do not have to flee.

Gestión Basada en la Subsidiariedad - Inglés  

Documento de Estudio para las asociaciones UNIAPAC en el Mundo.

Gestión Basada en la Subsidiariedad - Inglés  

Documento de Estudio para las asociaciones UNIAPAC en el Mundo.