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  • Subject area(s): Engineering
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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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Some people believe that it is a waste of time to learn about events that have already occurred. However, studying history is not an obsolete thing. History gives people today plenty valuable lessons in hope of making the present and future life better and not to repeat the same mistakes.

For many years, researchers have been following the behaviour of employees and managers. This analysis has grown to a new field of study, which is management. Incidentally, management has been used since a long time ago. According to (Robbins 2016), the Egyptian Pyramids and Venice construction are real examples of how management practice has been done since many years ago. In order to construct gargantuan projects like pyramids, tens of thousands of people need to work together. Other than that, planning, organising, and controlling functions must be done properly to make sure that everything was managed well. Over the past century, management has a more modern approach. It has grown from many previous findings. Mary Parker Follett and Chester Barnard were two major contributors to the management thought we learn and apply today.

Mary Parker Follett was a social worker who was concerned about employment and workforce issues (Bartol 2001). She stressed that human groups are far more valuable than engineering techniques. (Miller & Vaughan 2001) wrote that some key themes for today\'s manager which were found in Follett\'s work include: dynamism, empowerment, participation, leadership, conflict, and experience. Those ideas became the roots of the present management concepts such as flexibility, empowerment, self-management, and involvement (Schermerhorn et al.2017).

Other than that, Chester Barnard who was a major contributor to administrative management was known for his \"systems\" approach (Robbins 2015). He recognised that in order for an organisation to be successful in the long run, it was vital to sustain efficiency and effectiveness. His theories are applied to today\'s workplace as the fundamental basis for managers to create a cooperative working environment.

Managers use Chester Barnard\'s theories to bring out the employees\' willingness to cooperate.

This essay discusses on how the ideas of both figures would look like when applied to contemporary management thinking and how historical theories can be brought to today\'s management practices. Furthermore, this paper reviews on Mary Parker Follett\'s ideas on communication and how it is implemented in an organisation today. Lastly, a further research will be conduct to analyse if communication application will make any difference in self-managed teams or adaptive groups today.

As mentioned before, both Mary Parker Follett and Chester Barnard were two pioneers in the field of administrative management study. Follett and Barnard tried to designate concepts including authority, cooperation, unity, and leadership in an organisation. Follett and Barnard also emphasised on enhancing the well-being of employees and the role of leaders in an organisation. Thus, the prosperousness of the society can be maximised (Schermerhorn 2017). The concepts of these two theorists have been applied to today\'s management views, like the system theory. According to (Robbins 2015), both theorists had a common belief that intellectual capital was the most valuable asset of an organisation and should be managed properly.

Chester Barnard was a major contributor to administrative management. (Bartol 2001) wrote that one of Barnard\'s most well-known contribution is his acceptance theory of authority. This theory examines how managers can apply authority on a daily basis because workers can choose whether to accept or reject orders.(Samson & Daft 2015) reviews that managers should be facilitating instead of controlling employees. As stated by (Pryor 2011), it is important to find out the emotional conditions of the workers since working environment will affect employees\' performance. Also, managers should treat employees with dignity and respect as employees\' acceptance of authority are very crucial to the organisation\'s well-being.

Furthermore, (Davidson 2009) identifies that employees will accept directions only if: the orders are understood, the orders are consistent with the purpose of the organisation, the order suits the best interest of the employees and society, and employees see that the orders are physically and mentally able to comply. (Schermerhorn 2017) stated that staffs are unlikely to follow the orders if it is against their personal beliefs.Thus, authority does not depend on those who give orders and it really is employees who hold the power. This concept is familiar in the contemporary management today as organisations are transitioning to demise command and control setting and starting to assert individuals to authority.

Moreover, according to (Robbins 2015), Chester Barnard was the first theorist to recognise organisation as an open and social system that requires cooperation in practice. A system is a set of interconnected parts arranged in a particular way which produces a unified whole. He promoted a boundary-less organisation within the employees, customers, suppliers, and dynamically interact with the external environment (Schermerhorn 2017). This is because Barnard realised on how a company is interrelated with its internal and external parties. However, in order to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in an open system, effective formal and informal communication must be met.

Chester Barnard\'s ideas on \"cooperative systems\" were still executed today. His ideas defined a system as an open-ended dynamic system of cooperative effort to meet two conditions for longevity. Those two conditions were effectiveness and efficiency, which are two of organisational performance measures used nowadays.

(Samson & Daft 2015) also mentioned that one of Barnard\'s most significant work was the concept of informal organisation. Barnard argued that informal relationships were important to develop a convenient working environment and how the top manager should use intangible influence to shape the organisation\'s value and become a role model for the employees (Gabor 2000). This theory is implemented in today\'s management through the practice of corporate culture and its associated values. In the present time, organisations\' values should truly reflect the organisation.

On the other hand, Mary Parker Follett developed her theories among the poor and disadvantaged because women were not accepted into the business world as it is now. Her contribution was often put aside because she was a minority in terms of her gender. (Bartol 2001) mentioned that Follett was interested in employment and workplace issues and brought a significant impact in organisations as she promoted group functioning and human interactions in the workplace rather than expressing personal power. The power of a group is believed to improve the life of each worker and also encouraged democracy. Mary Parker Follett is also best known for her analysis of conflict resolution through integration approach. Integration is a way to find the most satisfactory solution for all parties.

Both management ideas are still implemented in the contemporary workplace in terms of teamwork. Known previously as integrative unity, organisations today operate as a whole, with interrelated parts supporting each other to attain goals. Moreover, sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to generate ideas and prepare with the best decision that benefits the society and also the organisation. Her ideas undergird contemporary management thinking to promote creative problem-solving.

Furthermore, (Davidson 2009) reviewed that Mary Parker Follett approached management through a collaborative job. She thought collaboration in the workplace was very important. According to (Schermerhorn 2017), leadership ought to be based on the leader’s influence. Thus, leaders and followers can work together. The best leaders are those who ask the employees to achieve common objectives together.

However, according to (Miller & Vaughan 2001) in order to participate, a clear communication, sense of openness, and understanding are needed. Follett\'s objective of the value of collaboration and participation are relatively similar to current management concept which is diversity. Today, valuing diversity and growing the sense of inclusivity is critical in order to attain the maximum potential from all employees which therefore can improve decision making.

Her theory of organisational behaviour was constituted of the human interactions within a society. For instance, in order to increase productivity, employee\'s health and wellbeing should be considered since it is key to perform optimally. This theory is still

acquainted in the contemporary workforce to be socially responsible and act ethically in behave of assuring the safety and health of the workers.

Mary Parker Follett also emphasised the concept of fluid management. According to (Robbins 2015), Follett proposed more people-oriented ideas rather than scientific theories. As mentioned in (Bartol 2001), Follett believed that firms should operate on the principle of \"power with\" which means that power should be co-actively developed by managers and employees working together equally. This idea is adopted to a popular management approach today, which is empowerment. (Miller & Vaughan 2001) believes that rather than delegating power, managers could give their workers opportunities to develop ideas and establish a more horizontal relationship. Successful organisations today believe that involving their operating workers in decision-making process is essential since the workers are the one who has to directly deal with the customers. In today’s business world, Follett would be regarded as a specialist leader to push more cooperative organisational management in which staffs are empowered, far more flexible in terms of determining their working and life balance, and also involved.

Based on the explanation above, it is true that the management application today is based on previous theories which are still being perfected. Mary Parker Follett and Chester Barnard\'s theories had help organisations to become more flexible, diverse, communicative, and inclusive which are vital in maintaining organisation\'s performance.

One of Mary Parker Follett\'s most important idea was her ideas on communication. Follett saw organisations as communities where employees suppose to combine all of their talents and achieve the maximum potential. During the process of decision making, top managers today also involve the operating workers so that the decision made will be relevant. Furthermore, every level of management work and communicate together, creating a sense of collectiveness within the organisation (Samson & Daft 2015).

An example of a company who applies Mary Parker Follett\'s theory of communication is Disney. Disney has been successful for more than 90 years. They have always been focused on providing superior customer service. According to (Gallo 2011), Disney provides a high level of customer experience training to its employees. Employees are trained to be assertively friendly to the customers and seek contact with customers, that way, customers feel valued. In addition, every employee is trained to be an effective communicator. This value is reflected in their show times which are always on time. A famous quote from the creator of Disney is: \"Whatever you do, do it well\". -Walt Disney.

Other than Disney, Panasonic is also known for its business principles, set by the founder, Konosuke Matsuhita. One of the principles is based on a true belief that success can only be achieved if employees know what they are doing and why. Matsuhita encouraged the whole organisation to pool all abilities to accomplish Panasonic\'s goals. Follett\'s vision on an organisation as being diffused throughout all levels of management rather than a hierarchical model is applied as well. Matsuhita believed that no matter how talented an individual is, without cooperation, Panasonic will only be a name. The application of communication is key in Panasonic so everyone in the organisation has a sense of purpose.

Disney and Panasonic are concrete examples on how Mary Parker Follett\'s communication ideas are still used in businesses today. However, if those ideas are applied to a more modern concept like self-managed teams or adaptive group, there is a possibility that the business will become more viable.

Follett\'s idea on group functioning argued that groups can control themselves and their activities (Bartol 2011). This view re-emerges in self-management concept today. (Samson & Daft 2015) argues that self-managed teams are a primary unit in a learning organisation. Self-managed teams are a group of people who are able to manage their daily activities without no leader nor supervisor. The team consists of workers with different skills who rotate tasks to produce a good or service. Companies today favour self-managed groups because they are less costly and more productive if implemented effectively.  (Pryor 2011) reviews that a comprehensive group which is more far-reaching than a hierarchical form of group is more productive. By working together and demise the hierarchy, every member of the organisation become equally responsible for executing the best performance for the greater good of the whole organisation. Self-management concept motivates workers to deliver an exceptionally good performance and to involve themselves in problem-solving and decision-making process.

In conclusion, as mentioned by (Samson & Daft 2015) a historical viewpoint contributes to understanding the present and the future. The ideas of Mary Parker Follett and Chester Barnard were perfected and applied to contemporary thinking of management in concepts like empowerment, self-management, involvement, and flexibility. Those ideas improve the process of decision-making and problem-solving since workers get opportunities to speak their minds as well.

Furthermore, successful companies like Disney and Panasonic also implement Follett\'s ideas on communication by making sure that the employees can work efficiently as a team and can communicate effectively with customers. This proofs that communication within the organisation and communication with customers are crucial in determining an organisation\'s success. Lastly, applying communication in a more modern concept of self-managed teams are critical since a group without leader and supervisor must be able to perform well. Without an excellent communication, people within the team will not be able to cooperate and work together. The question that still remains is whether this modern approach to self-management is the best way to handle an organisation?

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