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MP FOLLETMary Parker Follet
She is regarded as a bridge between classical approach and human relation – behavioral approach. She was the first one to highlight the sociological and psychological aspects of administration. She viewed organization as a social system and administration and a social process
As a classical thinker she believed in universality of her principles and as a behavioral cum human relation thinker she emphasized on the socio – psychological aspects of organization behavior. Chronologically she belonged to the classical era but philosophically she belonged to the human relation era.

Areas on which she has theorized

  1. 1.       Conflict
  2. 2.       Order
  3. 3.       Power
  4. 4.       Authority
  5. 5.       Leadership
  6. 6.       Planning and coordination


As per mp follet conflict is inevitable in an organization and it should be taken positively for the enrichment of the organization. There are three ways of managing conflict

  1. Domination
  2. Compromise
  3. integration 

If the conflict is resolved by way of domination the values of one party remain suppressed and the conflict is resolved only for a while. The party whose values are suppressed will revolt in the future thus resulting in conflict again. So according to mary parker follet domination is not a good way of resolving conflict

As per mary parker follet if the conflict is resolved by resorting to compromise the values of the parties involved in conflict will be partially addressed thus leaving the chances for the conflict to take place in future.

As per mary parker follet integration is the best way of resolving the conflict forever. In this manner the values of the parties involved in the conflict are fully addressed and there is no chance of re-emergence of conflict.


Why Integration is best for resolving conflict

  1. It strikes at the root cause of conflict
  2. It saves time and resources.
  3. It results in the evolution of new values

Steps Involved in integration

  1.        Bring differences into open to find out the real needs of each side
  2.        Breaking it into parts
  3.        Examining the real meaning of symbols
  4.        Preparation for response of other side

Why integration is quite difficult

  1.        High level of intelligence and discrimination is required which is rare among the administrators
  2.        Most people are used to domination
  3.        Managers are obsessed with power
  4.       People are not trained in making integration



Giving of orders

Mary parker follet has theorized on the concept of order. According to her one should avoid the two extremes of giving orders i.e. giving too much of order and not giving any order at all. She calls for creating a situation in which the individual should receive the orders of its own. She calls for creating a law of situation in which the orders flow from the situation. This is also known as depersonalization of orders.

Steps involved in giving orders

  1.        Conscious attitude-it involves knowing about the principles underlying the orders
  2.        Responsible attitude-it involves identifying those principles which should become basis for orders
  3.        Experimental attitude-analyse success or failure of orders
  4.        Result attitude- change the extent and manner of orders if not sufficient to yield results





According to mary parker follet power is the ability to make things happen. She has distinguished between power-over and power-with.



Power over is asserting one-self and forcing another to do one’s will. It will be resisted and leads to resentment and thus is less advantageous. Therefore it should be reduced by using integration, circular behavior and law of situation.


Power with leads to more power then power over it I more advantageous as it encourages co-operation, better understanding and thus helps in reducing conflict. This joint power arises when two individual or groups pool their power to arrive at a satisfactory congruence.


Authority and Responsibility

Mary parker follet has distinguished between power and authority. Authority is vested power and authority is derived from function and authority belongs to job and stays with job. She calls delegation of authority a misnomer. She advocated functional authority and rejected final authority as illusion. According to her the real authority in organization is the sum of all smaller authorities at various levels. Similarly responsibilities also depend on function i.e. for what one is responsible and not to whom one is responsible.


Leader is not the head but one who understands a situation and how to pass from one situation to another. Such people are found throughout the organization. According to mary parker follet there are three types of leaders

  1. Leaders based on position
  2. Leaders based on their personality
  3. Leader due to function

According to mp follet only those who have functional knowledge lead in modern organizations and the leaders perform the following functions

  1. Coordination
  2. Definition of purpose
  3. Anticipation of  situation
  4. Create group power
  5. Develop leadership among subordinates



Planning and Co-ordination


According to mp follet planning is harmonious ordering of parts and planning and coordination are closely related to each other. Central planning imposed from top will lead to failure if not supported by coordination from below

According to mary parker follet there are four principles of coordination:

  1.       Coordination by direct contacts
  2.        Coordination in early stages
  3.        Coordination as a continuous process
  4.        Coordination is the reciprocal phenomena.

She was the first female administrative thinker. Though, in terms of time period, she belonged to the classical era, but in terms of the content of her theory, she was much ahead of her times. She discussed ideas that  were subsequently discussed during the Humanistic period and the Contemporary period. She was very dismissive of the classical theories of the organization as being mechanistic in nature. She can be considered as a precursor to the Humanistic Period or Behavioural Period. Unlike the theorists of her time, she was an academician and not a practitioner. She was a lecturer in Political Science. Her theory was a by-product of her academic research which was based on both secondary as well as primary sources. Many of her contributions were path-breaking. She is considered as a link between the classical theorists and the future theorists.

Her Views on various issues

  1. Individual– Human being a social animal likes to associate with others. This very nature gives rise to the formation of group. Individual previously was independent but weak, subsequently individual became dependant but strong. As the time progressed, goals became many and human being could not achieve those goals on his own. Human-being being an intelligent individual and innovated his own strategy to achieve goal which was by cooperating with others.
  2. Group– The group is an outgrowth of Human Nature. Human being cannot remain in isolation. The group is as well an outgrowth of human purpose. Group is created out of the deliberate effort of the human being because Individuals believe that it cannot achieve certain goals which it can achieve through a group process. This results into the formation of groups. Group is a natural creation as well as a planned initiative. Within a group process, individuals interact with each other.  This Interaction is a process of interpenetration. This doctrine talks about interinfluencing of each other. This interaction gradually evolves into a synthetic or composite view which Folett has explained through her doctrine of Whole. This provides the identity or view of the group.
  3. State– Group evolves out of the individuals but it carries an identity different from the individual. The group and the individual enjoy a symbiotic relationship. The group represents the individual and the individual represents the group. The interest of the individual lies in the interest of the group and vice-versa. In modern times, the highest form of the expression of the group is a State. The state and the individual also enjoy a symbiotic relationship with each other. The interest of the citizen lies in the interest of the state and vice-versa. The identity of the citizen and the state flow from each other. Folett says that “the home of my soul lies in the state. True nature of the state of this type is found only in democracy”. State is also a type of group but it has a special place since it operates at a higher level. The very process of state emerging out of an individual does not take place in systems such as dictatorship or tyranny.

But, Folett has rejected the representative form of democracy. She subsequently emphasizes that such a relationship (discussed above) cannot exist in the representative democracy. Representative democracy is based on the law of consent rather than the law of co-action. In a representative democracy, few decide and many follow. In reality it is nothing but a rationalization of arbitrary exercise of power. That is why Folett has emphasized on the concept of“Participative Democracy”. In such a democracy, institutional mechanisms are put in place through which people regularly participate in the process of decision-making. She is stressing on Collective or Group Orientation and underemphasizing the Individualistic Orientation.

Evans & Burns- In a representative democracy, liberty vanishes into the ballot box in two seconds after which the people consume other’s politics. Democracy is a philosophy based on the idea that people consume their own politics.

The liberty of the voter is till the person casts his vote. Once the vote is cast, representatives no longer follow the diktats of the voters and no longer act on their behalf. They became masters of themselves or usually, there is a small group of powerful individuals which dictates terms to the representatives and others consume it.

Integration may not be possible in every situation. She has rejected the principle of Lineal Response and replaced it with the principle of Circular Response. The dialogue should not be unidirectional. She emphasizes on a dialogic approach rather than monologue approach.

  1. Leadership– Leader is the one who is able to understand the situation in totality and successfully move from one situation to the other. Folett says leadership is a critical function within the organization because organization is nothing but a group of individuals working towards a common goal. The job of the leader is to successfully influence the group towards achieving the goal. There are three different types of leadership.
  2. Leadership by Position– An individual acts as a leader by the virtue of occupying a superior position within the organizational hierarchy. This view is also promoted by the classical theorists of administration. The superior decides and the subordinates follow. The individual who carries the skill or the ability relevant to the job is most capable of acting as a leader and it is not necessary that the superior shall always possess the requisite skill set. Thus, she has rejected the concept of Leadership by Position.
  3. Leadership by Personality– It is a style of leadership where the one having the appropriate skill or the ability relevant to the job acts as the leader. Folett agrees in principle with this type of leadership. But, Folett also highlights some operational difficulties in this kind of leadership. She rejects Leadership by Personality but promotes Leadership by Function.
  4. Leadership by Function– This is a combination of Leadership by Position and Leadership by Personality. Folett says that it is the kind of leadership based on the principle of Circular Response. It is based on an associative or participative approach. The advantage of Leadership by Position is that it ensures discipline and the advantage of Leadership by Personality is that the person will always have the requisite skills.

The leadership exists not just because of the virtue of the position but also the ability and the skill the person possesses. The deficiency in the ability and the knowledge of the leader can be fulfilled by adopting a participative approach of sharing knowledge within the organization.

  1. Power and Authority– Folett says power is the ability to get things done. According to her, Authority is a vested power i.e. a legally assigned power. It is merely a right to develop and exercise power. Authority may not actually result into power Authority to be meaningful should be functional, pluralistic and cumulative. Power being given or powers being exercised are two different things. By pluralistic, she is referring that the authority should be exercised in association and not in isolation. Cumulative means that the authority should be exercised meaningfully using the ability of others. She also says that Authority is objective and responsibility is subjective. Within the organization, the responsibility is delegated, authority is not because authority lies in the job and stays with the job. Delegation of Authority is a misnomer. Authority being a vested power remains objective and does not vary. Responsibility, being the expected duty of the individual within the organization, varies because of the infusion of perception or thought process in the job. Within the organization, there can be assigning of the responsibilities and not the authority. When responsible is assigned, the associated authority automatically goes to the assignee. Responsibility should also be functional, pluralistic and cumulative.
  2. Order– She differs from the classical theories and does not accept their view of exercise of order based on the principle of Power-Over and replaces that with the concept of Power-With. Within the organization, the order might be complied, obeyed, disobeyed or partially obeyed. Whereas, the classical theorists say that the order is necessarily obeyed and will exactly follow what the superior has said. Folett differs from this view. She says for Order to be exercised meaningfully, it should be based on certain conditions.
  3. Conscious Attitude– There should be awareness about all the principles based on which the order is to be exercised.
  4. Responsible Attitude– One should be able to identify the appropriate principle based on which the order is to be exercised.
  5. Experimental Attitude– In certain cases which are unprecedented or unusual, newer initiatives should be taken.
  6. Pooling of the Resources– Within the Organization, data and information on various aspects of the organization should be meaningfully consolidated and maintained.

Order to be exercised meaningfully should be based on depersonalization of power i.e. power should seem to be flowing from the situation rather than the position. The depersonalization of order is based on law of situation. Depersonalization of Order leads to effective exercise of the Order. Human beings want to remain free. Thus, they resist domination because domination leads to resentment. This resentment restricts or retards compliance. The one who is exercising the order should act as a Salesman. The superior should always try to bring about awareness among the subordinates and try to develop the relevant attitude and only when the relevant attitude is manifest, the order should be exercised.

  1. Control– Within the organization, the Fact Control should replace the idea of theMan Control. The control should be exercised by the job and situation rather than the control being exercised by the superior. The responsibility should exist towards what rather than responsibility towards whom.
  2. Co-ordination– Co-ordination is the harmonization or the synchronization of the organizational activities. In order to establish co-ordination, Folett has provided four strategies.
  3. Co-ordination through Direct Contact– Within the organization, the effort should be to establish as direct a contact as is possible between the concerned parties involved in the problem of co-ordination.
  4. Co-ordination at an Early Stage– While making policies, laws or rules and regulations, the concerned entities or functionaries should be involved. This will make the policies and laws more realistic and it will not subject the laws to multiple interpretations.
  5. Co-ordination as a Continuous Process– A specialized unit should be set up continuously to look into the problems of co-ordination within the organization and suggest measures accordingly. (e.g.- Ministry of Plan Implementation)
  6. Co-ordination through the Reciprocal Relationship of all Concerned– The process of resolving the problem of co-ordination should involve all those who are concerned with the problem of co-ordination.

Follett’s analysis and conceptualization of administration has been dynamic in nature as compared to the classical theorists whose conceptualization was static in nature. Classical theorists developed a very machinist view of the organization. Whereas, the views developed by the later theorists were pretty vivid and dynamic.


Public Administration by G.Rajput

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