The Mary Parker Follett Network

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

Wanted: "Rare" writings by Mary Parker Follett

We are looking for writings by Follett that are hard to come by.
Maybe you have come across any of them?

We are looking for these three book reviews written by Follett:

  1. The Enduring Quest by Overstreet
  2. Organizational Engineering by Dennison
  3. Temptations to Rightdoing by Cabot

And the following unpublished works:

  1. The Essential Unity of the Social Sciences, 1926
  2. The Nature of Community, 1919
  3. The Social Center and the Democratic Ideal, 1913
  4. Social Ethics Seminary (2 papers), 1926/1927
  5. Twelve Steps, 1926

Your help would be highly appreciated!
Regards, Niels

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Hi Matthew. I have not. But now I did. I searched all entries for "Follett" in the file.
There seems to be no as yet unpublished material by Follett in that archive, sadly.

There is mention of a lecture called "Leadership" from 1928. But that one has been published already...

Attachments:

Well, perhaps it doesn't matter. Maybe we have enough?

Niels Pflaeging said:

Hi Matthew. I have not. But now I did. I searched all entries for "Follett" in the file.
There seems to be no as yet unpublished material by Follett in that archive, sadly.

There is mention of a lecture called "Leadership" from 1928. But that one has been published already...

Hi Matthew, hi all,

you are right, Matthew, we did not agree on any kind of rationale for this, so we may have completely different understandings and expectations.

I can only try to outline my own intentions and aspirations here. Firstly, I believe Follett's work was and still is very significant and little understood. So one of my aims is to make her body of work more accessible than it is today. Or as accessible as possible. Currently, I think she is rather "under-published", little read, even less understood. To our loss, not Follett's.

Personally, I would like to understand her entire body of work, as much as possible. And I wonder why some texts are not yet published. Maybe there is some additional conceptual insight in those texts, maybe not. I wonder why those texts are about. So there is professional curiosity. If there is great content in those texts, then of course I would like to help make it available to everyone as well.

Not sure if that makes sense to you, Matthew, or to anybody else here.

Yes, I understand the interest. I personally got "enough" from a single book -- The New State -- to feel empowered and inspired. Perhaps this was because my interest was chiefly in democracy. Others came to Follett and were empowered by ideas in Dynamic Administration, or Creative Experience. I think it depends on where we each are "coming from". But one soon realizes that there are the same common threads in all of her work, whether they apply to social organization or leadership or business management. In any event, I applaud your quest for greater awareness of Follett and her ideas.

By the way, over the past few months, I have been creating an anthology of writings from more than 70 authors from the 1860's through the 1930's, united by the theme "early voices of conscious evolution," which is something I'm particularly interested in. Of course, I discovered in 1996 that Follett had used that phrase, and I thought it unique. But now, in creating this anthology, I appreciate the larger milieu of thought from that time period. I don't mean merely "the progressive movement" but the realization in society that the direction of society could be, in part, a choice. Still, of course, Follett saw this in exquisite terms and depth, and I have included a powerful passage of hers in the collection. This research may also contribute to an answer for why not only her insights, but those of others in her era, do not yet manifest today in the way that you and I would like to have seen.

Niels Pflaeging said:

Hi Matthew, hi all,

you are right, Matthew, we did not agree on any kind of rationale for this, so we may have completely different understandings and expectations.

I can only try to outline my own intentions and aspirations here. Firstly, I believe Follett's work was and still is very significant and little understood. So one of my aims is to make her body of work more accessible than it is today. Or as accessible as possible. Currently, I think she is rather "under-published", little read, even less understood. To our loss, not Follett's.

Personally, I would like to understand her entire body of work, as much as possible. And I wonder why some texts are not yet published. Maybe there is some additional conceptual insight in those texts, maybe not. I wonder why those texts are about. So there is professional curiosity. If there is great content in those texts, then of course I would like to help make it available to everyone as well.

Not sure if that makes sense to you, Matthew, or to anybody else here.

Dear Matthew, thank you for your reply and thank for talking about your specific interests with regard to Follett. Wonderful to know that. I am very interested in the anthology you are putting together, and curious to hear what authors will be part of that collection. That's a wonderful and probably enlightening project you are working on!

Silke and I are going into another direction: That of making Follett's writing as a whole more accessible. Our interest is very much in organizational leadership, so we are keen to do something with her scattered writings of the last 15 years or so.

 

Niels - I applaud your effort to help making Follett's writing more accessible. I don't see that as being a different direction. Accessibility is why I pursued getting The New State republished in 1998 and  it is why all of her key writings were posted on this website. I don't know how many people have downloaded the writings from this site over the years, but I'm sure it's many!

You did a great job with making the publications available here! That also made the Follett book we are preparing possible. 

I was not aware that you republished The New State, though. 

The New State story. In 1996, the book was required reading in preparation for a conference that I was invited to. I was so impressed with it that I thought a new edition should see the light of day. Heeding the advice that in publishing it helps to have someone well-known write a preface or introduction, I sent a scanned and reformatted copy to Benjamin Barber, a well known political scientist and democracy advocate at Rutgers University. His initial reply was that he hadn't heard of Follett and wasn't interested. But shortly afterwards he reached out and said he was very impressed with the book and would not only write an introduction, but would also have his colleague, who was an expert in the Progressive Era, write a historical background section. He also said they would take it to Penn State Press, where they had a good contact.

Penn State Press said that yes, indeed they would issue a new edition. Now, at the time I was part of a small network emailing to each other about Follett -- a group consisting mostly of women -- and it was pointed out that now there would be three introductions that were all written by men (the initial intro written by me and my colleague/mentor Bela H. Banathy; the Barber intro; and the Mattson intro) -- where was the woman's voice? At first I thought "Well, Follett made no reference to her gender, so what does it matter?" But I considered it further and realized that of course Follett was writing as a woman, even if I could not detect it from the text. So we reached out to a professor at Harvard -- Jane Mansbridge -- who'd written about participatory democracy. She had never heard of Follett, either, but took at look at the text and was excited. So she also wrote an introduction. In addition to all of these introductions, the new text would include an index (not present in the original); Albie Davis had already begun an index, and I finished it.

Now, I assumed that Penn State Press would like the nice digitally reformatted version of the book. But no - they prefer to make a clean photographic copy of the original and print from that. So they requested an original edition copy, noting that it would necessarily be destroyed in the process of creating the new edition. The copy that I had read in 1996 was a first edition from the Idaho State Library that was in perfect condition -- in fact, until my reading in 1996, it had never been read. I knew this because the page edges had never been cut (the old way of printing sometimes left them this way, I guess). But the State Library was willing to let the copy go in exchange for a new edition, because they wanted the books to be accessible and read by people, not mere artifacts to sit on shelves.

In 1998, Penn State Press issued 500 hardcovers and 1000 paperbacks of the new edition.

Oh, that story is interesting on so many levels. Thank you for sharing it.

I do not have that edition of The New State, but a facsimile reprint with a somewhat ugly green cover. 

Your tale made me think of many things that might be irrelevant to you, but that matter a great deal to me, which is the experience of working with publishers and how they think and act. In this case the publisher's inclination to go with a facsimile reprint of the original edition, NOT a redesign with contemporary font, design, and orthography ("That's just too expensive" - "What difference does it make"?)

I have worked with many different publishers, and learned from it (the hard way) that publishers do not love books. Some even hate books. Most despise authors, some despise "sales". None of them knows or respects book marketing (except when it just happens). They tend to overprice books. None of them gives a damn about content, aesthetics (except the cover sometimes), beauty (of books). I apologize for turning this into a rant.

Anyways: Those are the reasons that Silke and I started our own publishing brand, now called "Follett Publishing". https://www.follettpublishing.com/ We are only starting this, of course. And we are starting to publish the works of author authors this year, kicking it off with, well, a book by Mary Parker Follett.

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