Joseph T. Mahoney
Baruch College, City University of New York
University of Illinois at Urbana−Champaign, College
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.
Chester Barnard and the Systems Approach to Nurturing Organizations
Associate Professor, and Michael R. Bloomberg Professor of Business Journalism,
Department of Journalism
City University of New York
One Bernard Baruch Way
55 Lexington at 24th St.
New York, NY 10010
Joseph T. Mahoney
Investors in Business Education Professor... [continues]
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