International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview

theory of majority rule, and reliance on experts placed the individual citizen on the sidelines as a passive spectator. The pluralist model, in contrast, overemphasized the individual at the expense of the whole. Both of these avenues were detrimental to the individual and society because the individual can only find his or her true individualism through group interaction. Follett's solution was a behavioral science approach to the study of social interaction, favoring participant, or in her terms, citizen involvement, and participative management. Follett had spent too much time as a social activist to conclude that integration was easy or inevitable, but she did conclude that it was possible in more cases than was assumed.


Management Philosopher

Follett's management philosophy grew from her early work on conflict and integration in The Creative Experience ( 1924), and she moved from a focus on political philosophy to an interest in business leaders. She was invited to give four lectures in New York City to the Bureau of Personnel Administration in 1925. These lectures brought together key ideas from her previous books and additional insight from her exceptional life and helped her to make a transition from political to business philosophy. She provided one of the earliest broad and eclectic definitions of the social philosophy of administration based on theories from political science, public administration, industrial and scientific management, and individual and group psychology, along with her extensive work experience. Many of her more influential lectures are published in three books edited by Henry Metcalf: Scientific Foundations of Business Administration ( 1926), Business Management as a Profession ( 1927), and Psychological Foundations of Management ( 1927), as well as in Lyndall Urwick Freedom and Co-ordination ([ 1949] 1987). Urwick also honored Follett in 1941 with the publication of Dynamic Administration: Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett.

Her lectures were based on three major themes, which composed her management philosophy: (1) integration, (2) authority and power, and (3) leadership. For her, integration comprised constructive conflict and integration of management and labor for a common purpose and included a larger view of the firm with all the various stakeholders (she even anticipated the concept of "stakeholder"). Her explorations on conflict resolution and integration led to an analysis of the way in which authority and power were conceptualized. On one hand, Follett wrote of "power with" rather than "power over," and "co-action" rather than "coercion." "Integration" leads to "power with." On the other hand, authority relationships lead to barriers that prevent accomplishing a commonality of interest and purpose. She listed three rules to help overcome barriers in authority relationships: (1) find the law of the situation (consideration of the facts) to depersonalize orders, (2) teach workers techniques of the job in order to lessen the need for orders, and (3) give reasons for orders. Focus should be placed on standards rather than orders, and workers should be involved in the development of the standards. These would lead to an integrated unity of purpose.

The third theme of Follett's management philosophy, leadership, was essential to the accomplishment of the first two -- reducing conflict through the integration of interests and obeying the law of the situation in power relationships. A grasp of the total situation and the ability to organize the group is essential to accomplish common purposes. She wrote about control and coordination in her paper "The Process of Control", published in the wellknown Papers on the Science of Administration (edited by Luther Gulick and Lyndall Urwick in 1937). Her control was "fact control" rather than "man control" -- control based on correlation rather than superimposed. Leadership was not based on power or authority but rather on the interaction of the leader and follower in the situation. Leaders provided the purpose, the common purpose. They also provided the coordination and control to the ends.

In 1928 she moved to London and lived with Dame Furse, a Red Cross leader, whom she had met and befriended earlier in her life. While in London, she studied the labor conditions in that country and became interested in the workings of the United Nations and the International Labor Organization ( ILO). She often traveled to Geneva to observe the UN, and on occasion lectured at the ILO. During this time she was also a member of the Taylor Society and served as vice president of the Community Center Association. She gave her final lectures at the London School of Economics in the first months of 1933. She died of cancer in December 1933, in Boston, the city where she had pioneered community centers and vocational programs.

NORMAN DALE WRIGHT


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books by Mary Parker Follett [1902] 1974. The Speaker of the House of Representatives. New York: Longmans, Green. Reprint. New York: B. Franklin Reprints.

1923. The New; State: Group Organization, the Solution of Popular Government. New York: Longmans, Green and Co.

1924. The Creative Experience. New York: Longmans, Green and Co.

Lectures and Papers by Mary Parker Follett 1941. Dynamic Administration; The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett. Lyndall F. Urwick, and Elliot M. Fox, eds. London: Pitman.

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International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2
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