Handbook of Research on Management and Organizational History
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Handbook of Research on Management and Organizational History

Edited by Kyle Bruce

Emerging from what was a somewhat staid sub-discipline, there is currently a battle for the soul of Management and Organizational History (MOH), at the centre of which is a widespread concern that much recent work has been more about how one should or might do history rather than actually doing historical work. If ever there was a time for a new volume on MOH, this is certainly it.
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Chapter 5: Making the Res Publica: the political basis of management in the US – the works of Joseph Wharton, Mary Parker Follett, and Chester Barnard

Ellen S. O’Connor


This chapter shows that the field of management is grounded in a political project to increase self-governing capacity. This project makes business the quintessential laboratory for organized, collective, creative life. The author argues that social responsibility is not merely a response to neoliberalism, environmentalism, or other twentieth-century movements but rather is the field’s DNA and reason for existing. She also hopes to stimulate engagement with this view, which contradicts received ideas about the nature and purpose of business. Three founders of management are examined in this chapter: Joseph Wharton (1826–1909), Mary Parker Follett (1868–1933), and Chester Barnard (1886–1961). They worked toward the goal of a society that could make itself. Wharton, Follett and Barnard also pioneered in building a science and profession of management. History has credited them with founding management, but it has shrunk their vision as the term took on narrower meanings. This chapter recovers the extent of their project and upholds it as a present-day ambition.

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