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Serving the State and the Private Sector: The Paradoxical Effects of the Reconstruction of Public Action on the Career Paths of Sports Ministry Agents in France

Faced with the problems of governing high-level sports policy in France caused by the mobilisation of various categories of private actors, and with the downgrading of France in the ranking of leading sports nations, the Sports Ministry instigated a reform of this policy based on the principles of New Public Management. While some studies have shown that neo-managerial reforms provoke opposition among public agents, or even a decline in certain professions, the results of the survey conducted on Technical Sports Advisors (Conseillers Techniques Sportifs – CTS), Sports Ministry agents who ‘report to’ the sports federations, instead reveal that they heighten the uncertainty of these agents’ careers and exacerbate the segmentation of this professional group. These observations can also be explained by the now recurrent tensions between the State and the French sports movement, tensions which confirm that the conduct of public action is above all a matter of power and institutional legitimacy.