8: The Ends of Men – Chester Barnard


Chester Barnard

Continuing with our discussion of Chester Barnard’s master work – The Functions of The Executive (1938) – we look at parts III & IV of the book. Here he is going into more depth (or less, depending on your point of view) on a number of organizational aspects and on the process of management.

Specifically, Barnard talks about the parts that make up an organization in Part III and, finally, the functions of the executive in Part IV. Constituents of the organization include authority, recruitment and retention of personnel, division of labour, and a theory of decision making; and the responsibilities of the executive centre on how to facilitate communication, formulate strategy and purpose, and select the most appropriate workforce.

For a broad introduction to the book, please refer to the Episode 7 page, and generally listen to that episode as we discuss much of what is necessary to understand Barnard’s terminology, philosophy and attitude towards organizations there. You will note that our conversation reflects the breath of Barnard’s legacy – he is building on Max Weber, F.W. Taylor, Henri Fayol and Elton Mayo among others, and inspiring theories such as organizational routines and systems theory.

This book is so important a classic that it took us two episodes (and seven total podcasts) to cover it. You won’t want to miss a single track!

You may also download the audio files here:  Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 (Summary of E7 & E8)

Read with us:

Barnard, C.I. (1938). The Functions of the Executive. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Part III: The Elements of Formal Organization

Part IV: The Functions of Organizations in Cooperative Systems

To Learn More:

Mahoney, J.T., and Godfrey, P. (2014). The Functions of The Executive at 75: An invitation to reconsider a timeless classic. Working Paper.