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2023 | Book

Chester I. Barnard: Innovator of Organization Theory

Author: Kazuhito Isomura

Publisher: Springer Nature Singapore

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About this book

This book looks at Chester I. Barnard’s theoretical and practical contributions to organization theory by examining his life, career, experience, intellectual relationships, philosophy, method, and theory.

Barnard (1886–1961) is considered an innovator in the field with the publication of his seminal work, The Functions of the Executive, in 1938. But why was Barnard able to publish such a groundbreaking book despite the fact that he was a practitioner, not an academic researcher? In pursuit of that question, this book carefully investigates the background of his ideas about management, such as his experience, philosophy, and method. It then traces the process of how Barnard built his concepts of organization as it examines his books, published papers, unpublished manuscripts, and correspondence and systematically summarizes how he built his theory of organization and management. Finally, the author explores how Barnard’s theory has the potential to be developed and put into practice by examining his important works after his publication of The Functions of the Executive, which is well known as abstract and difficult. Readers of this present book will come away with a clearer and more systematic understanding of Barnard’s theoretical and practical contributions to the field.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Background of Barnard’s Management Thought

Frontmatter
Chapter 1. Introduction
Abstract
C. I. Barnard was the founder and innovator of organization theory through the publication of his seminal book, The Functions of the Executive. This book attempts to clarify systematically and faithfully Barnard’s contributions to organization and management studies. First, this chapter describes the aim and scope of this book; second, it explains the research method and design used to accomplish its aim; it then presents an overview of the book; and finally, it illustrates the book’s originality and outlines its contributions to the study of Barnard’s management thought.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 2. Life and Career
Abstract
This chapter aims to examine Barnard’s life and career because Barnard created his theory of organization and management from his experience and observation. First, it explains why Barnard adopted a philosophical approach and built his theory on the basis of his experience. Second, it examines Barnard’s life from his birth to his campus life in Harvard. Third, it illustrates how Barnard started and developed his career. His main career was basically formed at AT & T. However, Barnard was often requested to manage different nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations to contribute to local communities. In particular, his experience at the New Jersey Emergency Relief Administration, and United Service Organizations had a huge impact on Barnard in developing his theory. Fourth, Barnard left AT & T and moved to Rockefeller Foundation, where he engaged in change management. Managing different organizations provided an opportunity for Barnard to implement and reconsider his theory in practice. Finally, the implications of this chapter are summarized.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 3. Experience at AT & T
Abstract
This chapter aims to clarify what experience Barnard accumulated at AT & T and how he was influenced by that when building and developing his theory of organization and management. However, as Chap. 2 pointed out, it is not easy to check how his experience at AT & T is related to his theory because Barnard avoided directly referring to his experience and observation. Therefore, the chapter first presents an overview of the Bell Telephone System. It then summarizes the history of AT & T briefly to identify what management issues Barnard had to face and handle as a headquarters staff member, general manager, and top manager at an operating company. Finally, it traces Barnard’s early management thought on the basis of his published papers and unpublished manuscripts.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 4. Intellectual Exchange with Researchers
Abstract
This chapter aims to clarify what intellectual exchange Barnard accumulated with researchers. It also examines how Barnard’s theory of organization and management was influenced by such intellectual exchange. Barnard built his own intellectual exchange network with well-known social scientists and philosophers such as L. J. Henderson, H. A. Simon, M. Polanyi, T. Persons, G. Homans, R. K. Merton, E. Jaques, and so on. This chapter focuses on intellectual exchange with Henderson, Simon, Polanyi, and Jaques because these intellectual exchanges are considered to be closely related to creating and developing Barnard’s theory of organization and management. It then clarifies what interest Barnard and these researchers shared and how they exchanged their views mainly by examining their correspondence.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 5. Basic Philosophy
Abstract
This chapter aims to clarify Barnard’s basic philosophy. Barnard accumulated his experience of managing and observing different organizations; he then formed his philosophy on the basis of his experience and observation. His basic philosophy is regarded as a system of his beliefs. In general, practitioners form their beliefs through their experience as what they think is true. They then apply their beliefs to the reality and verify the rightness through their experiment. Practitioners modify their beliefs in the process; they are gradually convinced of the rightness. This chapter examines Barnard’s three basic philosophies. The first is the conflict of collectivism and individualism, that is, balancing the interest between an organization and an individual. Barnard recognized the importance of this conflict that a manager has to be responsible for. The second is the view that the social world is complicated and ever-changing. Barnard believed that the social world is composed of social forces; and that social forces are systematized into a power such as an individual or an organization. These social forces and powers are interdependent and interrelated; therefore, they cause dynamic changes through their conflict and harmony. The third is the view of an open system approach that is combined by those two basic philosophies. Barnard understood that a whole is a system composed of its parts, the whole and parts are constantly interacting and changing through their interactions, and that a system has a stratified structure. Thus, this chapter suggests that Barnard formed his basic philosophy as a system of his beliefs on the basis of his experience and observation, and that he created his theory from experience and philosophy.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 6. Research Method
Abstract
This chapter aims to clarify Barnard’s research methods. Barnard was a practitioner, not a professional researcher; Barnard repeatedly stated that he created his theory of organization and management from his experience and observation. However, he was able to publish The Functions of the Executive, which is sufficiently logical, systematic, and scientific. This is because Barnard constructed his theory on the basis of his own research methods. First, Barnard adopted participant observation as his research method; he played the dual role of an actor and an observer. It is essential to observe the reality as a participant because the reality is always changing through an actor’s action and reaction from the situation. Second, Barnard accumulated his experience and observation; he then classified them into three different types of knowledge: behavioral, personal, and formal. Third, Barnard shared the Hippocrates method with Henderson, composed of intuitive familiarity, knowledge, and theory. Barnard created and combined concepts from accumulated knowledge; he called a set of concepts a “conceptual scheme,” which is regarded as being equivalent to a theory.
Kazuhito Isomura

Establishing Organization and Management Theory

Frontmatter
Chapter 7. Exploring What an Organization Is
Abstract
This chapter aims to trace how Barnard created his concepts of organization as he developed his career at AT&T from general staff to top manager. It examines published papers and unpublished manuscripts in which Barnard presented his views on the organization. When Barnard worked as general staff in the headquarters, he understood an organization as a mechanical structure from the viewpoint of the macro perspective. In contrast, when he became president of New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, he focused on dynamic aspects of the organization; he saw an organization as a system of human interactions from the viewpoint of the micro perspective. Barnard then started to prepare for the Lowell lectures and The Functions of the Executive. Henderson’s reviews contributed to refine and develop Barnard’s conceptual scheme for the theory of organization. As a result, Barnard systematically built his concepts of organization from the cooperative system to formal and informal organizations, to unit and complex formal organizations.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 8. Academic Influence
Abstract
This chapter aims to clarify how Barnard was influenced by academic research in building his theory of organization and management. It examines what literature Barnard referred to in his unpublished manuscripts before publishing The Functions of the Executives; it then identifies what literature was cited in The Functions of the Executives and clarifies the impact on Barnard’s theory. As a conclusion, the chapter points out that Barnard was in tune with Whitehead’s philosophy of the organism; he refined his conceptual scheme on the basis of Henderson’s suggestions; and Barnard shared his views on organization with Ehrlich, Pareto, Commons, Brown, Koffka, and so on. In addition, the chapter confirms that Barnard was familiar with the research of the Human Relations School and that he exchanged his views with the researchers directly at research meetings, but that Barnard emphasized the difference between their views. Thus, it is true that Barnard’ s theory of organization and management is largely based on his experience and observation; however, he explored research that fits with his experience and simultaneously attempted to develop his theory on the basis of academic research.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 9. Organization Theory
Abstract
This chapter and the next aim to offer an overview of The Functions of the Executive. This chapter focuses on Barnard’s organization theory, the next on his management theory. Barnard built a strict conceptual scheme for the theory of organization and management. He proposed two major concepts: structural and dynamic. Structural concepts are composed of the individual, the cooperate system, the formal organization, the complex formal organization, and the informal organization. In contrast, dynamic concepts consist of free will, cooperation, communication, authority, decisive processes, dynamic equilibrium, and (executive) responsibility. This chapter examines Barnard’s structural concepts and clarifies how Barnard built his theory of organization by arguing how those structural concepts are related and connected with each other.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 10. Management Theory
Abstract
This chapter and the previous one offer an overview of The Functions of the Executive. The previous chapter focuses on Barnard’s organization theory, this chapter on his management theory. Barnard built a strict conceptual scheme for the theory of organization and management; he proposed two major concepts: structural and dynamic. Structural concepts are composed of individuals, cooperate systems, formal organizations, complex formal organizations, and informal organizations. In contrast, dynamic concepts consist of free will, cooperation, communication, authority, decisive processes, dynamic equilibrium, and (executive) responsibility. While the previous chapter deals with structural chapters, this chapter examines Barnard’s dynamic concepts. It clarifies how Barnard systematically built his management theory on the basis of his organization theory.
Kazuhito Isomura

Exploring New Directions to Develop Organization and Management Theory

Frontmatter
Chapter 11. Organizational Autonomy
Abstract
The third part of this book, from Chaps. 1114, examines how Barnard developed his theory of organization and management after he published his major publication, The Functions of the Executive. In fact, he published his second book, Organization and Management, in 1948, in which he attempted to develop his theory. This chapter focuses on how Barnard developed his theory of organization; it chooses and examines three papers from Organization and Management. The first paper, “Concepts of Organization,” responds to some criticisms raised by a book review; it explains precisely how a formal organization is composed of and integrated by diverse individuals’ contributions. In particular, customers’ activities become integral parts of formal organization, as well as those of employees. The second paper, “On Planning for World Government,” and the third paper, “Functions and Pathology of Status Systems in Formal Organization,” add two new concepts of organization, namely lateral organization and status system, respectively. These two concepts are closely related to the argument of organizational autonomy. Barnard suggested that an organization is basically a whole and independent entity, and that it has its own autonomy. Therefore, it is basically impossible for executives and executive organizations to control and dominate an organization completely. Barnard explored how to manage an organization by taking into account organizational autonomy. Thus, this chapter aims to consider how Barnard searched for a new method of managing an organization on the basis of organizational autonomy.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 12. From Authority to Responsibility
Abstract
This chapter aims to examine how Barnard developed his management theory on the basis of his organization theory. As Chap. 11 pointed out, he added two new concepts of organization: lateral organization and status system. He then attempted to develop his organization theory to take into consideration organizational autonomy. Barnard stated that his management theory is based on his organization theory; therefore, this chapter explores how Barnard attempted to develop his management theory. Barnard suggested that he emphasized authority too much when publishing The Functions of the Executive, and that he underestimated the function of responsibility in coordinating an organization. Therefore, this chapter examines how Barnard shifted his focus from authority to responsivity in his management theory.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 13. Practical Knowledge and Thinking
Abstract
This chapter aims to trace how Barnard established and developed his theory of decision-making by examining his published papers, unpublished manuscripts, and correspondence. Barnard attracted the interest of researchers with the paper “Mind in Everyday Affairs,” which deals with both logical and non-logical mental processes and emphasizes the latter in business. Barnard then established his theory of decision-making in The Functions of the Executive; therefore, he is considered to be a pioneer in developing the theory of decision-making. However, Barnard regretted having definitively divided decision-making into two different kinds, namely opportunistic and moral, and having emphasized too much the logical aspect of opportunistic decision-making. Therefore, Barnard attempted to explore a decision-making method to integrate logical and non-logical mental processes and opportunistic and moral decision-making. As a result, he developed his own theory of organizational knowledge because making judgments is based on different forms of knowledge, such as skill or behavioral knowledge, personal knowledge, and formal knowledge. Barnard basically believed that action and knowledge are inseparable, and that decision-making is the process used to integrate action and thinking.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 14. Executive Ability and Education
Abstract
This chapter aims to examine how Barnard established and developed the theory of executive ability and education by tracing his papers, books, unpublished manuscripts, and correspondence. Barnard’s basic philosophy was to balance conflict between collectivism and individualism; he then believed that managers play a vital role in integrating and developing individuals and organizations at the same time. Therefore, Barnard explored in his career what executive ability is required and how to develop it. Barnard argued that both intellectual and non-intellectual ability are necessary for executives, and that the former is developed through formal education but the latter is mainly improved by accumulating experience. In particular, he gradually shifted his focus onto how to develop non-intellectual ability; he himself engaged in developing rich case materials in collaboration with L. J. Henderson, including both objective facts and subjective realities.
Kazuhito Isomura
Chapter 15. Conclusion
Abstract
Barnard is considered to be the founder and innovator of organization theory following the publication of his seminal book, The Functions of the Executive. This book aims to clarify systematically and faithfully how Barnard’s theory of organization and management was established and developed through examining the background of his management thought. To accomplish this aim, this book sets three major research questions: “Why was Barnard able to publish a book like The Functions of the Executive that is highly logical and systematic despite the fact that he is not a professional researcher but a practitioner?”; “How did Barnard form his major concepts for The Functions of the Executive?”; and “How did Barnard develop his theory of organization and management after the publication of The Functions of the Executive?” As a conclusion, this chapter summarizes the main points of this book; it then presents conclusions in response to the three major research questions of this book.
Kazuhito Isomura
Metadata
Title
Chester I. Barnard: Innovator of Organization Theory
Author
Kazuhito Isomura
Copyright Year
2023
Publisher
Springer Nature Singapore
Electronic ISBN
978-981-9970-39-1
Print ISBN
978-981-9970-38-4
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-99-7039-1

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