Henry C. Metcalf

American business theorist

Henry Clayton Metcalf (February 22, 1867 – August 1942) was an early American organizational theorist, Professor of Political Science at Tufts College in Massachusetts and Chairman of Tufts College, known from his publications on management with Ordway Tead and Lyndall Urwick.


Dynamic administration, 1942Edit

Henry C. Metcalf, and Lyndall Urwick (eds.). Dynamic administration: the collected papers of Mary Parker Follett. Harper & Brother Publishing, 1942.

  • Mary Parker Follett was a prominent business philosopher of the period, who agreed with Sheldon about the need to emphasize human factors in management, but placing greater stress on the need to develop a science of cooperation. According to Follett, what she called her 'Law of the Situation' could be a means for bridging the gap between an ideal of scientific management and the unilateral position that it seemed to involve in practice. In effect she was proposing the same collaboration between leaders and subordinates that was usually to be found between leaders of the same rank.
    • Book abstract
  • Miss Follett was not a “business woman,” in the sense of having actually managed any sort of business. But her lucid and illuminating ideas about organization were of priceless interest and value to the many industrial leaders and students of human relations problems, organization and politics with whom she came in contact. Her conceptions were in advance of her time. They are still in advance of current thinking. But they are a gold-mine of suggestion for anyone who is interested in the problems of establishing and maintaining human co-operation in the conduct of an enterprise. They have the added advantage of being presented with remarkable simplicity and clarity.
    • p. xi
  • Briefly stated, the Follett philosophy is that any enduring society, any continuously productive industrial organization, must be grounded upon a recognition of the motivating desires of the individual and of the group. Consistently, Miss Follett sought to force home a realization of the fact that the democratic way of life, implemented by intelligent organization and administration of government and of industry, is to work toward an honest integration of all points of view, to the end that every individuality may be mobilized and made to count both as a person and as an effective part of his group and of society as a whole.
    • p. xi-xii
  • Follett was always preoccupied with the dynamic view of organization, with the thing in process, so to speak. Authority, Power, Leadership, the Giving of Orders, Conflict, Conciliation — all her keywords are active words. There is a static or structural approach to the problem of organization which has its value; but those who are most convinced of the importance of such structural analysis would be the first to admit that it is only a step on the journey, an instrument of thought; it is not and cannot be complete in itself; it is only the anatomy of the subject. As in medicine, the study of anatomy may be an essential discipline, but it is in the physiology and psychology of the individual patient that that discipline finds its working justification.
Thus the four principles which she finally arrived at to express her view of organization were all active principles. In her own words, they are:
"1. Co-ordination by direct contact of the responsible people concerned.
2. Co-ordination in the early stages.
3. Co-ordination as a reciprocal relating of all the features in a situation.
4. Co-ordination as a continuing process."
Since these principles are carefully explained and illustrated by Miss Follett herself in the final paper in this volume, we must content ourselves here with merely this concise statement of them.
  • p. xxvi
  • Fifteen years ago Follett expounded a philosophy of management that even to-day is a generation ahead of practice, and one can find therein a significant parallel with the pioneering work of Frederick W.Taylor. In his teaching, the adoption of a new philosophy of management—“the mental revolution” as he put it—was a fundamental part of his new technique; but, as knowledge of his methods spread, the practice of scientific management was allowed to develop and expand shorn from its underlying philosophy. Mary Follett was not concerned merely with the technique, the methods of management; her contacts with business and its leaders gave her ample chance of seeing the new technique emerge and grow. But with deeper insight she could see what too many business leaders missed, that the philosophy of management and its psychological foundations were still unheeded, perhaps even unknown. In this lies the greatness of her contribution. It is as modern and applicable to-day as it was when first she spoke; it will be as modern and applicable tomorrow.
    • p. xxvii

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