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Mary Parker Follett

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Industrial & Organisational : Introduction : Personnel : Organizational psychology : Occupations: Work environment: Index : Outline


Mary Parker Follett (18681933) was a social worker, consultant, and author of books on democracy, human relations, and management. She worked as a management and political theorist, introducing such phrases as "conflict resolution," "authority and power," and "the task of leadership."

Follett was born into an affluent Quaker family in Massachusetts and spent much of her early life there. In 1898 she graduated from Radcliffe College. Over the next three decades, she published several books, including:

  • The Speaker of the House of Representatives (1909)
  • The New State (1918)
  • Creative Experience (1924)
  • Dynamic Administration (1942) (this collection of speeches and short articles was published posthumously)

Follet suggested that organizations function on the principle of power "with" and not power "over." She recognized the holistic nature of community and advanced the idea of "reciprocal relationships" in understanding the dynamic aspects of the individual in relationship to others. Follett advocated the principle of integration, "power sharing." Her ideas on negotiation, power, and employee participation were influential in the development of organizational studies.

She was a pioneer of community centres.

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