In the last 50 years, many disciplines have been active in making contributions to the development of management thought. The fields of public administration and business education have felt, more than any others, the impact of the diversified attack on current practices and past thought by disciplines that previously had little to offer the practicing manager. Barriers to communication among these disciplines were pierced by joint research and the publication of findings in both academic journals and popular periodicals. A partial integration of these streams has been attempted by some of their exponents as they developed interest in fields outside their major discipline.
One of the earliest and clearly most important events in this trend of interdisciplinary activity in the study of management was the Hawthorne Experiment, conducted between 1927 and 1932 at a plant of the Western Electric Company. Elton Mayo, a Harvard sociologist, and a team of social scientists conducted a series of experiments and worked with management in an attempt to explain variations of productivity in the plant. Physical factors, such as lighting and working conditions, were the first aspects to receive attention, but psychological factors emerged as more important.
An early contributor to the psychology and sociology of management, Mary Parker Follett, attempted to interpret classical management principles in terms of the human factors. She proposed four principles as guides to management thinking.
1. Coordination by direct contact of the responsible people concerned.
2. Coordination in the early stages.
3. Coordination as the reciprocal relating to all the factors in the situation.
4. Coordination as a continuing process.
Central to the thinking behind these principles was the idea that management must continually adjust to the total situation. Follett observed that conflict is usually present in management situations and offered a process for resolving it. The manager must handle conflict by,
The first two never satisfy everyone, but integration can achieve a new approach to the problem that will satisfy all parties. In order to achieve integration (1) the differences must be brought into the open (2) a ‘re-evaluation” must be made by all parties; (3) all parties must anticipate the responses of the others and seek a new position that suits not only the parties but the relationship among the parties.
In other words, each party should avoid the limitations of his own position and seek a new, integrated position acceptable to all.