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Mary Parker Follet (1866-1933).

  •  Ideas of Mary Parker Follet’s are a bridge between the classical school of thought and the Behavioural School of Thought. She gave a socio-psychological dimension to the study of organisational theory.
  • Her ideas found expression in his book Creative Experience (1924). Some of her ideas are given in the following paragraphs in short:
  • Mary Parker Follet analysed the conflicts in the organisation and she regarded the conflicts as a natural adjunct of the working of the organisations.

She advocated the constructive methods of dealing with the conflicts and hence viewed conflicts as “Constructive Conflicts” and not always as “destructive conflicts”. She advanced 3 methods of resolving conflicts in an organisation

  1. This is the easiest way to resolve a conflict where victory of one side over the other side usually results. However, it is not suitable for the health of the organisation in the long run.
  2. Under this, each side gives up a part of its demands and settles the conflict. However, rarely a side would like to compromise since it involves giving up a part of the demands and hence a compromise solution always has to be brokened down by a mediation or by an external party. Even then, it is the most widely accepted method of resolving conflicts.
  3. Here the desires of both the parties are integrated and a “win-all” situation is created where neither side has to sacrifice its desires. It is a highly detirable method, and is the best since it creates a new whole in which everyone is happy since he feels that his desires are achieved.

MP Follet also outlines the following steps to achieve integration:-

  • Bringing differences into the open is the first step in integration of conflict. It becomes easier to integrate when one knows what actually is the real issue of discord between the two parties. Often it is observed that real issue is of very minor nature and is hidden behind the plethora of disputes of secondary nature. Hence finding the real issue is often very difficult and once it is found the rest of the exercise is fairly easy.
  • Breaking up the whole is the second step in integration. Here the demands of both the parties are broken into constituent parts. It means analysing the psychological implications of the demands of each side to see which could be specifically met and which were merely symbolic of a desire and could be satisfied in any other way.
  • Anticipation of the conflict i.e. which way the conflict would head once certain proposals are prepared and presented to the parties. It is akin to playing a game of chess where all moves are prepared responses.

She is called as one of the earliest behaviouralists as she was among the earliest scholars to analyse the organisational behaviour. She analysed the concepts behind conflicts and conflict resolution within an organisation and gave meaningful ways to solve the conflicts in an organisation by giving the concept of conflict integration.

She also talked of leadership, authority and control. She negated the “Trait Theory” of Leadership Style and advanced the concept of situational variable to the leadership. According to her, the Leadership Style in a given set up is a function of 3 variables, namely, the Leader himself, the Follower and the situation. She hence advanced the concept of situational control and preferred it to the control of man.

Mary Parker Follet also gave the concept of Cumulative Responsibility’ which, according to her, should be inculcated in the workers. According to her, it is important that the workers realise their individual responsibility but the realisation of just the individual responsibility does not help. Instead they should be made to realise the ‘joint responsibility’ vis-a-vis their units as it automatically solves the problem of co-ordination.

Urwick described Follet as a “Women who had a universal mind”. However, her ideas of integration were termed as illusory as they are good to look at but difficult to achieve. However, her contributions to administrative theory were in fact prophetic and she was ahead of her times.

Public Administration by G.Rajput

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