The Mary Parker Follett Network

Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. - MPF

Connecting MPF's work with social complexity theory

Hi all,

David Holzmer and I have a special issue of a journal coming out this year looking at the intersection of leadership and complexity theories.  There is a place for a 'classic' article reprint and I would like to start a discussion about which of MPF's writings we might feature. 

We would very much like to make some connections between MPF's work and Paul Cilliers' argument that only modest claims for ostensibly unknowable conditions exist, and that we need to be careful about the reach of our knowledge claims as well as the constraints that make any such claims possible (2002 p. 256). Both MPF and Cilliers were quietly, yet defiantly, critiquing a seeming addiction to certainty that underpins rational modes of thinking.

Your suggestions are most welcome, and I hope these ideas will spark some interesting discusssion.




Cilliers, P. 2002. Why we cannot know complex things completely. Emergence, 4(1/2): pp. 77-84.

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Hi Heather,

I'm in San Francisco, away from my Follett books, but here's the first thought that comes to my mind. I think it is in the first or second chapter of Creative Experience where Follett "deconstructs" facts, and puts "experts" in their place, so to speak. I found this chapter so compelling, I wrote an article about it, which I believe is in our menu of papers and publications: Follett on Facts. One concept that comes to mind is: "a fact out of relation is not a fact at all." So, all facts have to be analyzed in their context. She ends her article with some practical advice, e.g., in situations where people disagree, and they want to uncover the "facts," it is best that they do joint fact-finding, or at least agree upon which "experts" they would both respect. And, while experts can be helpful, even the experts disagree.
Then, even when people agree on the "facts," it does not mean that they agree about what to do about the facts.
Good luck! Albie

Thanks Albie, we'll take a look at your 'Follett on Facts' paper.


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