Open Access

Assessment as innovation: The case of the French administration in the nineteenth century


In nineteenth century France, an administrative practice underwent a spectacular expansion: the assessment of all civil servants, regardless of their ministry of affiliation. This article analyzes this innovation. In the first section, the political and administrative context of this assessment is presented. The second section describes the chronology of the expansion of performance appraisals and the content of the forms used: the competencies of the agents were dissected on all levels (attendance at work, technical abilities, and personal and family life). Finally, the last section will attempt to analyze the modalities, drivers, and effects of the expansion of this practice.