“Our political life is stagnating, capital and labor are virtually at war, the nations of Europe are at one another’s throats – because we have not yet learned how to live together. The twentieth century must find a new principle of association. Crowd philosophy, crowd government, crowd patriotism must go. The herd is no longer sufficient to enfold us.”
Mary Parker Follett, The New State, Introduction, 1918
Last year, on December 18th, I was preparing for the holidays, wrapping last-minute presents and meeting up with friends to celebrate the season of peace, hope and joy.
This year, I am remembering that Mary Parker Follett passed away on this day, in 1933. While this may seem a solemn event, out of sync with this festive time of year, I find it appropriate to be commemorating a life well-lived. I am grateful that I have been introduced to a woman who lived a remarkable life, and shared, without hesitation, her extraordinary insight on organizational theory and organizational behavior.
I had never heard of Mary Parker Follett. Nor did I know that she is considered the “Mother of Modern Management” and is deemed, even now, as a foremost authority on democracy and social organization. January 2017, Dr. Cam McLarney introduced me to Mary Parker Follett when she invited me to be her research assistant.
Dr. McLarney was awarded a Dalhousie University Rowe Research Grant to build upon her current research on Mary Parker Follet. Dating to her doctoral days in 1992, Dr. McLarney had focused her research and writing on Mary Parker Follett’s work, specifically in the areas of leadership and vision. This project would expand into the areas of corporate governance and social responsibility, and explore the role of management consultants in this area.
This research project sent me to the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York, in the United Kingdom. At the same time, I conducted my personal unofficial and undocumented mini-research project that involved asking everyone who I met if they had every heard of Mary Parker Follett. Not one person recognized the name!
2018 is the 150th anniversary of Follett’s birth as well as the 100th anniversary of her book, The New State. To honour this milestone, Dr. McLarney has graciously agreed to give a series of interviews over the course of 2018 which will highlight her research on Mary Parker Follett. What will surprise you, as it did me: many “cutting edge” concepts we think came from our “modern” time, had their origins in the writings of Mary Parker Follett.
We invite you to join the discussion over the coming year. We welcome your thoughts and comments.
Rebecca Budd MBA(FS) Class of 2003
Blog Coordinator, CFAME Connection