Mary Parker Follett

Human Relations Theory: Volume 1 Chapter 10

The topic of human relations within organizations finds its origins in the 19th century, especially during the Industrial Revolution (Bess & Dee, 2012, p. 321). Many scholars have researched and developed theories that surround the development of human relations within organizations, starting with the relationships between workers and management.Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933) is best known for providing an outlook on “social organization and democracy” within institutions (Bess & Dee, 2012, p. 322), most notably in times of conflict amongst the members of the organization. Follett contended that “conflict was not necessarily wasteful and could in face serve as a socially valuable mechanism for the expression of differences – and thus, for the advancement of democracy” (Bess & Dee, 2008, p. 322). Other notable researchers, such as Chris Argyris , William F. Whyte , Leonard Sayles , and George Strauss , have continued with further research into human relations theory, noting that the theory “makes the critical assumption that there is no necessary, irreconcilable conflict between the individual and the organization” (Bess & Dee, 2012, p. 324). If an individual within an organization has had a satisfactory experience with his or her responsibilities, the satisfaction will reflect in a positive performance for the organization.

Further Reading

Dubin, R. (1951). Human Relations in Administration: The Sociology of Organization. Prentice-Hall, Inc. New York.

Tannenbaum, R. (1959). Some Current Issues in Human Relations. California Management Review, Vol. 2(1).

Sullivan, J.J. (1986). Human Nature, Organizations, and Management Theory. Academy of Management Review, 11(3). doi:10.5465/AMR.1986.4306210.


Bess, J. L., Dee, J.R. (2012). Understanding College and University Organization: Theories for Effective Policy and Practice. Stylus Publishing, LLC. Sterling, VA. 

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