Chester Barnard and the Systems Approach to Nurturing

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Chester Barnard and the Systems Approach to Nurturing
Andrea Gabor

Joseph T. Mahoney

Baruch College, City University of New York

University of Illinois at Urbana−Champaign, College
of Business

Chester Barnard was best known as the author of The Functions of the Executive, perhaps the 20thcentury’s most influential book on management and leadership. Barnard offers a systems approach to the study of organization, which contains a psychological theory of motivation and behavior, a sociological theory of cooperation and complex inter−dependencies, and an ideology based on a meritocracy. Barnard’s teachings drew on personal insights as a senior executive of ATTin the 1920s and 1930s, and he emphasized the role of the manager as both a professional and as a steward of the corporation. For leadership to be effective, it had to be perceived as legitimate, Barnard maintained. Barnard sensed that the central challenge of management was balancing both the technological and human dimensions of organization. The challenge for the executive was to communicate organizational goals and to win the cooperation of both the formal and the informal organization; but he cautioned against relying exclusively on incentive schemes to win that cooperation. Responsibility—in terms of the honor and faithfulness with which managers carry out their responsibilities−−is the most important function of the executive.

Published: 2010

Chester Barnard and the Systems Approach to Nurturing Organizations

Andrea Gabor
Associate Professor, and Michael R. Bloomberg Professor of Business Journalism, Department of Journalism
Baruch College
City University of New York
One Bernard Baruch Way
55 Lexington at 24th St.
New York, NY 10010
(646) 312-3970,

Joseph T. Mahoney
Investors in Business Education Professor of Strategy, &...
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