The Secrets of Transactional Dismissal in France

Jacqueline de Bony


The paper explores transactional dismissal (TD), an illegal but common way of dismissing people in France. TD is often used as a means of making redundant senior managers when mergers, outsourcing or restructuring occurs. The paper first describes the procedure from several inputs (juridical, managerial, psychological, social). It further analyses the discourses of concerned actors (employees, employers, remaining employees, union representatives, lawyers) and interprets how the practice is appropriated and legitimized by the parties.
Actors display an ambivalent discourse about TD. They acknowledge TD from a managerial perspective and consider it as an injustice with distressing psychological consequences. This ambiguity is interpreted as a consequence of the paradox of the firm: nodes of contracts that, in fact, deal with human beings. The paper also underlines the lack of statistics and quantitative data about TD and the “omerta†surrounding the transaction. Such a silence remains essential for the survival of the practice.

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