Chester Barnard and the Systems Approach to Nurturing Organizations

Andrea Gabor and Joseph T. Mahoney

in The Oxford Handbook of Management Theorists

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199585762
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

Chester Barnard and the Systems Approach to Nurturing Organizations

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This article describes Chester Barnard (1886–1961), the author of The Functions of the Executive, one of the twentieth century’s most influential books on management and leadership. The book emphasizes competence, moral integrity, rational stewardship, professionalism, and a systems approach, and was written for posterity. Barnard emphasized the role of the manager as both a professional and as a steward of the corporation. His teachings drew on personal insights as a senior executive of AT&T, which saw good governance as the primary means of winning public acceptance of its telecommunications monopoly. Barnard provided a conceptual scheme of the theory of organization based on the following structural concepts: the individual and bounded rationality, cooperation, formal organization, and informal organization. The principal dynamic concepts include communication, consent theory of authority, free will, the decision process, dynamic equilibrium and the inducement–contributions balance, and leadership, executive responsibility, and moral codes.

Keywords: AT&T; authority; bounded rationality; Chester Barnard; consent theory; Functions of Executive; leadership; moral integrity; organization theory

Article.  9595 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Business History

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