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Management Development: Mary Parker Follett’s Contribution Essay

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Updated: May 27th, 2020


The contribution of Mary Parker Follett to management has received a lot of concern. Some people depict her as an administrative philosopher inside the classical management approach. Others view her as a modernist. Therefore, this paper will describe her contribution to management, its relation to classical approach theory as well as its relevance to managers in the contemporary organization.

Follett’s main contributions to management thought and practice

Fry (2009) explains that Follett has greatly contributed to the principles of management in organizations. For instance, she believes that the complete separation of people from the technical problem cannot happen. Therefore, ethics is imperative in management, particularly in the decision-making process. Additionally, she does not agree with the idea of departmentalized thinking. Thus, a thinking strategy that amalgamates ethics, as well as economic considerations, is important. This means that an organization should apply moral principles and cost analysis during the decision-making process. This will help the organization to come up with congruent decisions that benefit the organization via cost reduction and profit maximization. Besides, she emphasized on the satisfaction of workers. For instance, managers should treat workers properly. This is because people produce more when their needs receive primary attention.

Follett argues that managers require training so that they can lead and manage organizations effectively and efficiently. Although some theorists argue that leadership and management is a technique that one can acquire, Follett disagrees. For example, managers should undergo training so that they acquire technical knowledge that assists them to deal with people. Moreover, Follett considers management as a profession (Mele & Rosanas, 2008). This means that it has a body of knowledge. Therefore, managers ought to use the acquired knowledge to guide and direct employees towards organization triumph. For instance, managers should follow professional standards while dealing with employees. This means that fair treatment with integrity, autonomy and honesty should prevail in all employees.

Furthermore, Follett believes that managers should include the spiritual aspect of management (O’connor, 2010). For example, as employees interact, a spiritual relationship could result. This relationship is significant than manufactured goods. This is because the employees’ spiritual relationship can lead to either growth or downfall of an organization. For instance, in an organization where spirituality is part of the policies, employees are likely to produce more because their spiritual needs receive satisfaction. On the contrary, an organization that lacks freedom of worship is likely to fall. For that reason, organizations should create opportunities for spiritual values.

Additionally, rational use of power is a core issue in an organization because social relation problems revolve around it. For instance, many employees concentrate on power division as well as achievement. This includes matters like appraisals, incentives, authority, responsibility, unity of direction and command. Thus, Follett proposes ways of generating power in an organization so that social relation problems do not occur (Schermehon et al., 2011). To begin with, an organization should develop power as well as authority. This means that responsibility should come from a function and not a position. Additionally, an acceptable power entails a matching responsibility and authority.

Moreover, people in an organization should work side by side. This is because payment, work, position and authority do not give someone power over the other. Therefore, an employee can have his or her own power. This will motivate him or her to work hard and produce more. As a result, a clear difference between genuine and pseudo power should exist in an organization. Genuine power is coactive while pseudo is coercive. Hence, organizations should develop and adapt genuine power because it can be grown and shared.

According to Mele & Rosanas (2008), Follett states that individual development is important for the growth of an organization. This means that individual development is the core function of any business and organizations achieve it through organized employees’ relationship. Additionally, the promotion of individual development demands a particular management style that focuses on education and not blames. This is because a situation changes people as they adjust to it. For instance, a new employee may find it hard to adapt to certain technologies. Therefore, the manager should educate him or her on the new technology rather than blaming his or her inadequacies. This will result in individual development that helps the company to achieve the mission.

Finally, managers should contribute positively to society. For example, they should be aware that management provides an opportunity for contribution to the wellbeing of society and culture enhancement (O’connor, 2010). This means that the manager should assume a corporate responsibility. The corporate responsibility involves standard maintenance, public education and development of standards. Standard maintenance entails the manager’s loyalty to the profession. For example, in the event that a manager starts another organization, he or she should adhere to the professional standards. Besides, every organization should have standards. Lastly, society should not interfere with the standards of the organization. This means that an organization should not subordinate its standards to the public but educate them about it.

The relationship of Follett’s contributions to classical management theory and practice

Follett’s contribution to management and managers relationship with employees was due to the concern that Taylor ignored the human aspect of management (Schermehon et al., 2011). For example, in most organizations, management does not pay attention to the contribution of employees. On the other hand, managers give employees authority and responsibility to take part in innovative activities. For instance, Taylor, a scientific management theorist depended on time and motion studies to analyze the employees work. On the contrary, Follett argued that employees are aware of their job, and they should be involved in the work analysis process. This means that managers should give employees chances of contributing to the work analysis and development process.

According to Follett, a match should exist between authority and knowledge regardless of the direction (Mele & Rosanas, 2008). This means that workers in possession of a particular knowledge should control the task process. On the other hand, managers should not supervise the work but facilitate. This is important for workers empowerment and development. Furthermore, direct communication should exist between managers of different departments in order to facilitate an easier development process — additionally, Fayol stress on the importance of teamwork. For instance, the manager of each department should work collaboratively to achieve the overall goal of the organization. This is similar to the Follett principle about cross functioning. According to the principle, an employee of a particular department can work in another unit. This is because all departments work for the benefit of the organization, and when one fails, the business will collapse.

Although Fayol talked about the importance of knowledge in management, Follett described it further. According to Follett, knowledge, as well as expertise, should determine the leader of the organization (Jones, 2008). For instance, the authority should not detect the leader of an organization. This means that leadership can move in any direction that includes horizontal. On the contrary, Fayol believes in the upward movement of leadership. This is because the state in one of the principles of management that the scalar chain is imperative for the success of an organization. The scalar chain is a system where authority runs from the highest to the lowest position. This is different from Follett, who view authority in a horizontal aspect. This means that the authority can move from one department to another.

The relevance of Follett’s contribution to managers in contemporary society

Follett’s contribution to management is of great significance to managers in contemporary society. To begin with, it deepens the managers understanding of the importance of employees in an organization (Jones, 2008). For instance, the lack of a manager’s focus on employees needs satisfaction can lead to the collapse of an organization. This is because employees work hard to achieve the organization goals. On the other hand, they have needs that can hinder performance. Therefore, it is the task of the manager to identify those needs and satisfy them before a conflict arises.

Additionally, Follett’s contribution to management has helped managers realize the importance of technical knowledge (Jones, 2008). For example, technical knowledge helps managers to be effective and efficient in the management process. As a result, managers in contemporary society have realized the significance of training. This has also facilitated the opening of many schools where managers attain technical knowledge. For instance, there are a variety of management courses concerning strategies, human resource, business technologies, leadership and actuarial science. Technical knowledge allows the manager to deal with employees in a proper way without discrimination.

According to Schermehon et al., (2011), Follett contribution to management has assisted managers in recognizing the role of the society in management. For example, the organization usually targets the society as its market. Therefore, a mutual relationship should exist between the organization and the society. As a result, managers should ensure that society understands the organization standards. This will assist the organization to gain a large portion of the market share. This is because when society has information about an organization, the mutual bond increases; thus, an increase in the profit margin.

Finally, Follett’s contribution to management has helped managers know that a favourable working environment is good for the success of the company (Fry, 2009). For instance, the favourable environment should focus on the physical, social, psychological and emotional component of the employees. Therefore, most managers attempt to promote the physical well being of the employees via reduction of environmental hazard and provision of protective attires. The manager facilitates the social environment by permitting employees to interact freely with each other. Moreover, managers enhance psychological well being of employees through remunerations, appraisals and recognitions. Finally, managers ensure that workers belong to union groups, which are responsible for addressing their grievances. When employees are working in a favourable environment, they are likely to produce more.


Follett’s main contributions to management thought and practised focused in the following areas: principles and professionalization of management, religious inclusion, power and authority, employees and social development. Additionally, the relationship of Follett’s contributions to classical theory and practice concerned scientific, bureaucratic, and administrative management. Finally, Follett’s contribution is relevant to managers in contemporary society. This is because it has completely changed the relationship of the managers with the employees and the society.


Fry, M. (2009). Mary Parker Follett: Assessing the Contribution and Impact of Her Writings. Journal of Management History, 22 (7), 11-19.

Jones, G. (2008). Management: The Aotearoa New Zealand Context. Queensland: John Wiley ans Sons.

Mele, D., & Rosanas, J. (2008). Power and Authority in Management: Mary Parker follett Power-With. Phylosophy of Management, 17 (4), 35-36.

O’connor, E. (2010). Integrating Follett: History, Phylosophy and Management. Journal of Management, 26 (9), 26-35.

Schermehon, K., Davidson, P., Poole, P., Simson, A., Woods, P., & Chau, L. (2011). Management. Queensland: John Wiley and Sons.

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