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Mary Parker Follett

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Mary Follett was an outstanding social worker and management consultant, she was also the key person who connected scientific management with behavioral theory. She was called one of two great women management masters of classical management theory in early days along with Lillian Gilbreth. She was a giant on the management theory and today her brilliant thought has profound effect on modern day management and leadership. Peter F.Drucker (2001) thinks Follett died unknown even when she had passed away for 25 years as a consequence of her assumptions cannot match the fact that the management theories which burgeoned in 1930s and 1940s but now we find that her assumptions are closer to the truth.

Follett was born in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1868. Her childhood was misfortuned due to her mother was a person who lacked common sense and her deeply respected father was gone when she was ten years old. She must shoulder the burden of the family as the elder child of the two. She inherited a barrel of money from her father and grandfather, which ensured her future life and long-time school career.

In 1892 Follett entered Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women in Cambridge , Massachusetts (later Radcliffe College) where she graduated in 1898 in economics, government, law and philosophy. While at Radcliffe she spent a year at Newnham College, Cambridge. Her research thesis at Radcliffe was published in in 1896 and again in 1909 as The Speaker of the House of Representatives. Her desire for knowledge, her strong point , which widened her horizon and lay the foundation of all that she should process to be a scholar.

Then, she became as a voluntary social worker in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston from 1900 to 1908. In 1908 her masterpiece The New State - Group Organization, the Solution for Popular Government published. In the book she expressed her philosophism which great influenced by Johann Gottlieb Fichte, a German philosopher. She reckoned that people could find the true human only when they were in an organization. The potential of the person was just a potential until it was released in group living. People could only through collective find their true personality and freedom. ( Follett, M. P. 1918)

Mary Parker Follett published magnum opus of corporation philosophy, Creative Experience, in 1924, with more of her ideas about the creative interaction of people in group process. Many themes are developed following her former book. On her opinion, enteriprises were not only Economic organizations but also social services ones. In this, David W. Stewart (1987) suggests, her approach was basically that of a pragmatist, 'though she emphasized--and placed higher value on--the creative rather than the verifying aspects of experience'.

In 1926, she moved to England to live and work, and to study at Oxford. In 1928, Follett consulted with the League of Nations and with the International Labor Organization in Geneva. She lived in London from 1929 with Dame Katharine Furse of the Red Cross. It is worth mentioning that Follett had very good popularity because all her friends appreciated her noble personality, refined manner and great wisdom.

In 1933, our dear Mary died on a visit to Boston, the city which is near her hometown.

The Mary's theories have undergone several developments and have been gradually perfected. They were influenced by many factors, which include the social, political, intellectual and so on.

From her experience, it is easy to find that she was a big fan of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, who was a famous German philosopher. He claimed that individuals can not avoid the influence of their social environment. Those help Mary developed her theory about "the group principle". In The New State: Group Organization the Solution of Popular Government, she pointed out the thesis statement that we find the true man only through group organization. The individual's potentialities would be covered until they participate in group life. Only in this way, can we lead the true freedom.

Based on the saying of "The purpose of the government is to protect individual rights", she put forward a new concept of democracy. She had no interests in the vote and considered that it was only to quantify the value of right. In her mind, democracy was a kind of social consciousness rather than individualism. A new democracy was to start from small neighborhood group to community group, to state group, to a national group and finally reach the social ego which Fichte mentioned.

l The relevance of the theories to managers today

Although Follett's theories were too new for the managers at that time to practice. With time goes by, the fact shows she was



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