“In order to maintain the Company’s Italian appearance and make it more acceptable in Italy”, is how Daniele Francesconi, Secretary of the Venice Head Office, partly justified his proposal for a reorganisation of the agency network in the peninsula, just before the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy. Politically active in advocating the cause of national independence from foreign domination, the cause of his exile and incarceration by the Austrians, and in acknowledgement to the wish of the (mainly) Italian shareholders for greater operational autonomy from the Trieste Central Head Office, Francesconi drafted a new management system in December 1860, which would see Italian agencies controlled from Venice for improved responsiveness and flexibility.
The author believed that this new structure would also address apparent shortcomings in the development of the fire and life sector, business reporting, and the management and productivity of staff.
Each aspect is fully explained by Francesconi in a 224-page booklet of 16 chapters containing 276 paragraphs. The Generali Historical Archive has acquired few handwritten testimonies by those who developed the company, making this a rare and valued possession.
In clear, firm handwriting with no revisions, indicative of a strong personality with experience gained in the field, he proposes a pyramidal structure of skills and reporting replicated in a territorial system subdivided into districts, departments and principal agencies. The Venice Head Office would head the structure while maintaining a dialectic relationship with Trieste, which would continue to supervise activity in the peninsula.
The plan was presented to Central Head Office in January 1861, meeting some resistance, and was later submitted to the Venice Office. The extent to which Francesconi’s study was accepted, modified or rejected is unknown. Management minutes, expressing the executive view, are silent on the matter or, rather, suggest that it was adopted in part. Other documentary sources in the Archive, such as bylaws, statutes and circulars, may be able to shed further light on the matter. Francesconi himself anticipated possible resistance to the new system, but expressed his trust “in the spirit of corporatism of the company’s personnel” to reach a final compromise.
Further information can be found in S. STENER, The Restructure of the Company’s Italian Agencies. The Progetto of Daniele Francesconi, in Generali in History. Tales from the Archives. Nineteenth Century, Venice, Marsilio, 2016, p. 168-177.