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Philosophy of Management

Volume 3, Issue 2, 2003

Developing Perspectives

Domènec Melé, Josep Rosanas
Pages 35-46

Power, Freedom and Authority in Management
Mary Parker Follett's 'Power-With'

Power is one of the key ideas in management, and so is the concept of authority. However, most studies on power are rather instrumental, dealing with the place of power in management, and how to achieve it. Less attention has been paid to the essential concepts of power and authority themselves in management thought and how they have evolved. To clarify these concepts, and to better understand the notions of power and authority in management and their proper use in organisations, this paper goes back to one of the pioneers in management thought: Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933). She had an original vision of power, holding that genuine power is not 'power-over, but 'power-with'. At the same time, she defended an authority based on function and responsibility. We explain what her account implies for management in theory and practice.

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