Summary. This article deals with the cultural development and general perception of the concept of ”intelligence” and ”economic intelligence” in France. After the Cold War, finance and markets assumed a greater importance in determining the relations between countries; however, it took a long time for the French elite to be convinced of the existence of ”economic warfare” and to define a culture of its own in the field of intelligence. Still, when all the international analyses were strongly related to the Cold War ideology and talking about economic warfare seemed like an abuse of language, C. Harbulot and P. Baumard urged the need to reconsider intelligence activities and to apply them in the national economy, overcoming the negative connotation that ”reassignment” had. Researching, processing and spreading any piece of information that can be considered strategic is the only formula we can rely on in order to face the last challenges posed by globalization. Between 1992 and 1994, the expression ”economic intelligence” officially entered the French public debate on national compositeness, together with the request for public intervention in the national economy. Harbulot and Baumard kept recommending the systematic search and interpretation of the information available to everyone, showing a new way to interpret the markets. The new approach is different from traditional intelligence by the nature of its field of application (open information); the nature of its actors (inserted in a collective information culture context), and its cultural specificities (each nation’s economy generates its own specific model of economic intelligence).
Key words: economic intelligence; economic warfare; intelligence culture; information; globalization
* President of the De Cristoforis Strategic Studies Center (Italy)