2019-Susan Mawer

To what extent can the works of Mary Parker Follett be found in modern management theory and practice to promote critical thinking to challenge and create new ideas, concepts and activities.

Dr Susan Mawer, Liverpool John Moores University

Project summary: Social scientist and management theorist Mary Parker Follett (1868 – 1933) exemplified creative research and practicethrough her challenges to conventional management ideas.

Following the 150th anniversary of Follett's birth and centenary of the publication of her seminal work on society, TheNew State - 2018 should have featured prominent celebrations of Follett's life and work in management publications, yetlittle recognition of these events is evident. Hailed by Peter Drucker as a 'prophet of management' (1995), Follettproposed that business should primarily operate with social rather than economic goals wherein management isgoverned by acceptable and widely promulgated codes of conduct. Long before it became vogue, she called for diversityin work and society and urged embracing difference to promote novel ideas and practice.

A modern interpretation, analysis and synthesis of her written work will be compared with the evolution of principlemanagement theories to seek to demonstrate the credibility of Follett’s ideas and the extent of innovation compared withher contemporaries and those who followed. Follett’s great faith in the capacity of human beings to develop and growintellectually led her to propose teaching management and leadership skills to enable practitioners to create novelapproaches to work and society. For those practicing, teaching, and studying management, Follett’s philosophies will beevaluated to assess the legitimacy of teaching management history to business students, whilst offering a role-model incontinually developing oneself and seeking innovative solutions to problems in work and society.