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Parker, L. D. 1984. Control in organizational life: The contribution of Mary Parker Follett. The Academy of Management Review 9(4): 736-745.

Note by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida

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The purpose of this paper is to describe the work of Mary Parker Follett who built a bridge between the classical management control model and the behavioral and systems control models that were developed after 1960. Well in advance of the behavioral concepts of control Follett recognized the need for workers to exercise self-control and advocated that workers and managers should manage with each other. Organizations should allow collective self-control, two-way feedback of information, and lateral as well as vertical coordination of controls. She recognized that the organization could have a value greater than the sum of it's parts, and that it should focus on the operation of the whole system rather than the parts in isolation. Follett also stressed the interaction of individuals and groups with their environment. Her control model is illustrated below.

Follett's Holistic Model of Control

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Some references to Follett's work:

Follett, M. P. 1937. The process of control. In L. Gulick & L. Urwick (eds.), Papers on the science of administration. Institute of Public Administration: 161-169.

Follett, M. P. 1941. The meaning of responsibility in business management. In H. C. Metcalf & L. Urwick (eds.), Dynamic administration: The collective papers of Mary Parker Follett. London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd., 146-166.

Follett, M. P. 1973. The psychology of control. In E. M. Fox & L. Urwick (eds.), Dynamic administration: The collected papers of Mary Parker Follett, 2nd edition. London: Pitman: 148-174.

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