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The Functions of the Executive by Chester I. Barnard ,. Kenneth R. Andrews Contributor. Most of Chester Barnard's career was spent in executive practice. His career began in the Statistical Department, took him to technical expertness in the economics of rates and administrative experience in the manag Most of Chester Barnard's career was spent in executive practice. His career began in the Statistical Department, took him to technical expertness in the economics of rates and administrative experience in the management of commercial operations, and culminated in the presidency of the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company.
He was not directly involved in the Western Electric experiments conducted chiefly at the Hawthorne plant in Cicero, but his association with Elton Mayo and the latter's colleagues at the Harvard Business School had an important bearing on his most original ideas.
He was a director of a number of companies, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a lover of music and a founder of the Bach Society of New Jersey. Get A Copy. Paperback , 30th Anniversary Edition , pages. More Details Original Title.
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This is an extraordinarily weird book. It has an almost statutory approach, starting from the definition of a person and working its way up from there. It kind of doesn't work. I think its failure lies in its illegibility. It is not immediately clear what the purpose of his organizational scheme is. He does not answer - or fails to live up to his promise of answering - the key question: why am I reading this?
Here is one guess from a reviewer, that gives an idea: "The purpose of [the book's] conce This is an extraordinarily weird book. Here is one guess from a reviewer, that gives an idea: "The purpose of [the book's] conceptual scheme [of cooperation and organization], as I understand it, is to indicate why individuals join together for achieving economic, social, political, or other ends, and what conditions and arrangements govern their joint success or failure.
In developing this conceptual scheme, Mr. Barnard begins with a definition of "an individual," takes up power of choice or free will and its limitations, and proceeds to a series of other definitions. Cooperative systems, to use his term, arise out of the desires of individuals to accomplish certain purposes and the limitations on what each can do while working alone.
As soon as an individual enters into a cooperative system, however, his own attitude toward his associates and theirs toward him-in other words, a whole range of social relationships-become significant. These attitudes and relationships may be other favorable or unfavorable to the cooperative system. The functions of the executive are those of guiding and managing the enterprise to accomplish the common purpose and to satisfy the individual participants.
Barnard refers to his presentation of his theory as "difficult" and there will be few, I suspect, who do not find it heavy reading. One reason for this effect is that in an effort to universalize his points, Mr. Barnard has abstracted so much color from his statements that their meaning and significance are not readily perceived.
As a consequence, the first half of the book, at least, probably can be understood only by a person of wide experience or broad observation-a person who has a realistic background upon which he can draw to make an interpretation of the theories presented.
Barnard's conceptual scheme, but it is not the method of approach which I find most useful in tackling the study of administration. The contribution in the book which seem to me to be most significant are those chapters and passages in which the author's own shrewd powers of observation and innate common sense overshadow his attention to abstract sociological concepts. William W. Cooper, in a review, called the book "seminal rather than definitive" and seemed genuinely not to like it for being so abstract and weird.
I can imagine that this book launched the study of a thousand facets of administration, while failing utterly to make any sense out of most of them itself. Here is Barnard's own summary of Part I, to get a sense of the verbosity: 1. The individual human being possesses a limited power of choice. At the same time he is a resultant of, and is narrowly limited by, the factors of the total situation. He has motives, arrives at purposes, and wills to accomplish them.
His method is to select a particular factor or set of factors in the total situation and to change the situation by operations on these factors.
These are, from the viewpoint of purpose, the limiting factors; and are the strategic points of attack. Among the most important limiting factors in the situation of each individual are his own biological limitations. The most effective method of overcoming these limitations has been that of cooperation. This requires the adoption of a group, or non-personal, purpose. The situation with reference to such a purpose is composed of innumerable factors, which must be discriminated as limiting or non-limiting factors.
Cooperation is a social aspect of the total situation and social factors arise from it. These factors may be in turn the limiting factors of any situation. This arises from two considerations: a the processes of interaction must be discovered or invented; just as a physical operation must be discovered or invented; b the interaction changes the motives and interest of those participating in the cooperation.
The persistence of cooperation depends upon two conditions: a its effectiveness; and b its efficiency. Effectiveness relates to the accomplishment of the cooperative purpose, which is social and non-personal in character. Efficiency relates to the satisfaction of individual motives, and is personal in character. The test of effectiveness is the accomplishment of a common purpose or purposes; effectiveness can be measured.
The test of efficiency is the eliciting of sufficient individual wills to cooperate. The survival of cooperation, therefore, depends on two interrelated and interdependent classes of processes: a those which relate to the system of cooperation as a whole in relation to the environment; and b those which relate to the creation or distribution of satisfactions among individuals.
The instability and failures of cooperation arise from defects in each of these classes of processes separately, and from defects in the combination. The functions of the executive are those of securing the effective adaptation of these processes.
What are we to make of this? Does this conceptual schematic help an executive incorporate his or her will upon the clay of human capital? View 1 comment. Oct 22, Shagun Tripathi rated it really liked it Shelves: management-classics.
First published in , The Functions of the Executive continues to carry modern management wisdom for executives and academics alike, thus finding its way into the classics of management. In his preface, Barnard mentions that the book has been developed from the initial manuscripts prepared for a series of eight lectures at the Lowell Institute in I found this tiny detail particularly interesting, because not only does it indicates that the necessity for executive wisdom had arisen in th First published in , The Functions of the Executive continues to carry modern management wisdom for executives and academics alike, thus finding its way into the classics of management.
In his preface, Barnard mentions that the book has been developed from the initial manuscripts prepared for a series of eight lectures at the Lowell Institute in I found this tiny detail particularly interesting, because not only does it indicates that the necessity for executive wisdom had arisen in the time, but also that seasoned executives of the era were paying attention to Barnard. However, on no account are the ideas scattered or divergent, instead, they cohesively create an understanding of organizations and the role of executives as we view them today.
Barnard does not begin his work with prescriptions on how an organization must be run. Justifiably, he stands tall in the field of organizational theory for his incisive and detailed commentary on the nature of the organization seen mostly as a system from his perspective in this book.
Another aspect of his work is its strongly sociological perspective, one that I am able to better appreciate on account of previous readings on Talcott Parsons who was a major influence on Barnard.
On numerous other occasions in the book, he talks from a sociological perspective, invoking culture, religion, customs, adaptation, social activity. He binds these varying and quasi-divergent dimensions using co-operation as his principal tool. This does not mean that he ignores the economic function of the organization- he addresses the role of capital as a tool to overcome limitations of the environment of the enterprise. It is clear that Barnard looks at executives with a deeper understanding, regardless of the technologies of their various fields.
The Functions of the Executive
Chester Barnard 's The Functions Of The Executive
The Functions of the Executive is a book by Chester I. Barnard — that presents a "theory of cooperation and organization " and "a study of the functions and of the methods of operation of executives in formal organizations. The book is notable for its focus on how organizations actually operate, instead of previous approaches to organizations that emphasized "prescriptive principles. Barnard attended Harvard University between and where he majored in economics; however, he did not obtain a degree.
Barnard and the principles of Henri Fayol. Chester I. He also believed that a part of the executive responsibility is loyalty. Chester felt that executives serve two main functions: They should have a good level of. Chester Irving Barnard was a successful corporation executive and a powerful management theorist who defined the nature of corporate structure.