Mary Parker Follett learned Hegel in school, and then wrote about how the dialectic process can be an alternative way of leadership, consulting, and democracy.
After yesterday’s (Feb 22, 2017) class on Ensemble Leadership Theory (ELT, for short) (Mgt 388v), I went to a small Mexican Market to get bananas and tomatoes. I ran into two people that are relevant to homework questions:
1.) How is the first follower the most important leader (in Ensemble Leadership Theory, ELT for short)?
2.) In your goal to be more sustainable in everyday life, what major changes can you make and how will it affect you, the people around you, and your communities (again, please use ELT notions).
STORY ONE: The clerk at the Mexican Grocery Store.
I asked “How are you doing?”
“Better since I began working here”, he replies.
“My last job, I worked under a micro-manager. She stood over me telling me everything to do, how to do it, and it was not a good experience”, said the clerk.
“I know what you mean. I teach leadership. Micromanaging is ruining the country, and it’s an addiction at my university. Too much hierarchy, red tape, too many bully bosses”, I replied.
“Here I am my own boss, I get to make decisions on how to handle customers, what to reorder, and so on. We all work together here”, said the clerk.
“We called that ‘Ensemble Leadership’ in class today”, I replied.
Story Interpretation: The young man had gotten beyond the former micro-managed power-over boss into a Situation where and ensemble of leaders are engaged in what Follett calls power-with, rather than the old, power-over kind of leadership. Giving a taste of freedom to self-organize in the store, he was able to reflect upon what was here and now, and how different it was from what he left behind in the micromanaging world, I call XYZ, in-the-box leadership in America.
Figure 1 – The In-the-Box of XYZ ‘dead’ leadership Notions (see https://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/teaching/490_psl/myers_briggs_and_leadership.htm for more info.
What are the X, Y, and Z dimensions of In-the-Box leadership?
X Dimension – Transactional to transformational leadership, as studied by Burns (1978) and Bass (1985). This is a classic dualism in leadership studies. Burns looked at modal thinking (the means over ends reasoning) in the early stages of development and held these leaders to be “transactional.” Transactional leadership “requires a shrewd eye for opportunity, a good hand at bargaining, persuading, reciprocating” (Burns, 1978:169). A “transformational leader,” on the other hand, “recognizes and exploits an existing need or demand of a potential follower… (and) looks for potential motives in followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower” (p. 4).
X – Are you more transactional or transformational in your leader personality, style and the organization situation you lead?
Y Dimension – From the Will to Server to the Nietzschean Will to Power. The Will to Power is specifically excluded from transaction and transformational leader theory by both Burns and Bass. I therefore treat it as a second dimension of leadership. It is quite silly study leadership as just a well to serve; many leaders pursue power, some are able to do good things with it, others are swallowed by power. Nietzsche wrote about Will-to-Power (WTP) and Thus Spoke Zarathustra (TSZ) as having something to do with the will to initiate and implement a goal as well as the more macro construct of Darwin’s theory of natural section, the power to transform the inherited advantages from generation to generation (WTP #362). And WTP is also a Will to Truth (TSZ, pp. 28, 113). The WTP is a will to overcome the small people, “they are the superman’s greatest danger” (TSZ, p. 287). And the superleader is not satisfied with the happiness of the greatest number of workers or consumers (TSZ, p. 287). The Super leaders sees the abyss with the eyes of an eagle and grasps the abyss of poverty and misery with the talons of an eagle (TSZ, p. 288).
Y- Are you more about will-to-serve or will-to-power in your leader personality, style and the organization situation you lead?
Z Dimension – From monophonic (single voice) narrative to (polyphonic) narrative. Some leaders cultivate one voice, their own, and others are more pluralistic, able to create polyphonic leadership.
First – there was one voice -In bureaucratic theater, there is mostly monologue. In bureaucratic leadership, for example, there is mostly monologue; other voices are there on the stage but forbidden to speak, or they can only be whispered, their words unhearable, drowned out by the one official narrator who is authorized to take center-stage and speak and speak some more. As Kirkeby (2000: 232) argues it is the right of power to narrate events, to declare them romantic, tragic, comedic, or ironic, and then of course make them all into a romantic narratives that fits the bureaucratic pension for monophonic (single voiced) influence. For any other voice to speak would be an act of bureaucratic espionage; certainly for the secretary to speak would be unthinkable rebellion.
Second – there were two voices – In the Quest two or more players take the stage, but it is rarely more than dialog. In dialogue the “I” and the “Other” take the stage and we hear voices, but little reflection. It is no longer the monologue of the I declaring the Other as villain. The Other gets to speak and be heard by the ‘I.”
Third – there were three voices – To me, this voice that Kirkeby describes is the same one discovered long ago by Adam Smith. Smith looked at global capitalism and say that without ethics events might well follow a logic of the market place that would not lead to ethical relations among buyer and seller, employer and employed, monopolist and entrepreneur. It is the internal spectator, the voice that speaks to us while observing the First and Second (the I and the Other) rehearse there dialogue on the stage in our mind’s eye. And in this model, even two actors on the stage visualize the dialogue of the Triad in their own head, but as well in the head of the other.
Fourth – then there were four voices – This is a very special voice, one we sense is about to speak but does not, one that is on the stage but stays in the shadows. In the Fourth, “the event is never over and done with” (Kirkeby, 2000: 237). And with the about to speak voice of the Fourth, we are intuitively aware of the simulation and almost can here the polyphony of voices, a mob about to take storm the stage. We may hear a groan, a murmur, a mumbling sound, but we can never quite make out the words. We can sense somehow the bureaucratic machine, the quest journey, and even chaos itself are just mythic metaphors some people have speculated and articulated about the web of human events (web is yet another one, as it theater a metaphor). We sense the gap, and we know with one more step we will certainly fall into chaos. See Boje (2000c) for more on the multiple voices of leadership.
I could try to stay in the XYZ-Box, and say ELT is X-transformational; Y-will-to-serve, and Z-four voices. And that micromanaging is the opposite: X-transactional-micromanager; Y-will-to-power, and Z-One-Voice (micromanager in the usual bureaucratic theater. The problem, of course, is that ELT is dialectical development process, and its Out-of-the-XYZ-Box.
The clerk in the Mexican store is here and now, Out-of-the-XYZ-Box, and traversing the Situation of ELT. He has discovered his own agency, the capacity he is building that he is building for power-with (as Follett calls it). He is out of the chaos of micromanagement, able to make choice according to what Follett calls the Law of the Situation. He is obeying the Situation, instead of obeying the bullying micromanager doing her micromanaging of another human being.
Story Interpretation To me this first story is a beautiful example of the dialectical development of ELT. He is like an acorn seed about to become a mighty oak tree (Hegel, 1807, see Preface, section #3 for tree story). He us Out-of-the-XYZ-Box, and most likely, will never go back into such a Situation. He is like a bod on that tree, with some tree roots extended, and knows some fruit is about to happen in his life space. He is fleeing the micromanaged Box and engaged in moments of leader development, necessary in his Self-development.
Usually a ‘how are you’ is a superficial moment between clerk and customer. But this is a necessary moment, where I can reinforce the process of his dialectical development, and my own, as well. For both of us, ELT, here and now, lacks actual existence (IBID, Hegel #3). The bud, for each of us, is not yet a blossom, and even with the blossom, it has no fruit, not yet. He and I, tarry for awhile, noticing our respective moves away from the XYZ-Box, into exploring a new emerging shape and form of leadership, one I hope is ELT arriving from its future, like the way the oak arrives from the acorn.
In early dialectical stages you get acquainted with the general conception of XYZ-leadership, then learn to refute it, as the concrete abundance of life comes your way in all its richness (Hegel, #4).
Hegel wants Science to be part of what is grasping the sequential existence of something emergent, manifesting, in actuality, which in this case study in this first story, is ELT. ELT is one its day in its dialectical development to become the new leadership science. Its necessity seems obvious to the young clerk and to myself.
The truth of the existence of Out-0f-the-Box-ELT is only an assertion, something it will take science to study and verify, and to make the refutation, it is better than XYZ, better than micromanaging, better than structural-functionalism, better than strongman leadership. Right now I have “intuition” (#6). What is required is an exposition of the Notion, of this intuition, in the abductive logic (abductive is a wild guess, a hunch, an assertion; comes from pragmatist Charles Sanders Peirce, his triadic of induction-deduction-abduction, and a kindred dialectic that is beyond our scope).
STORY TWO: The Man Panhandling Outside the Store
As I exit the little Mexican store, I am confronted by a man asking me for spare-change. I stare at him in disbelief. We had just talk of the homeless Situation in Las Cruces in the Leadership in Society class (Feb 22 2017 Mgt 388v). The presenting team did a Forum Theater skit linking homelessness views in New Mexico to ELT. Should you give money to the homeless? Definitely not, said the class, and me. Give it to social service agencies. Come with me and the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans Chapter, the Legion Riders Chapter (I belong to all three) and collect food and cash donations in front of Wal-Mart, almost monthly, in Las Cruces that we hand over to Gospel Rescue Mission, Mesilla Valley Community of Hopes, Oak Street veterans apartments, the Soup Kitchen, the Veterans Home, and so on.
I decide to ask some questions. “Are you homeless?”
“No”, he replies, “I live in a house across the highway. My truck transmission is busted, and I have no way to earn a living without it.” FYI: Panhandling in Las Cruces, is a $500 fine (I keep this to myself).
“I need to buy some food at Family Dollar, for the family”, he continues. I think about all this, looking him in the eye, and wandering what is the right thing to do? Do I give, or not? Do I go with him to Family Dollar, and make sure the money goes to food. I decide that would be micro-managing the Situation. He is coherent, does not seem drunken, etc. He is not aggressive.
“Do you know where to get free food? I ask. He shakes his head. “You can go to the Soup Kitchen at Mesilla Valley Community of Hope campus, for free lunch, and fore free dinner, to the Gospel Rescue Mission. They also have free clothing, and so on”, I add.
“I think I would like to do that”, he says, smiling, looking me in the eye. Its what I call an abductive moment, and I reach my decision.
I pull out three, dollar bills. I usually don’t open my wallet, but place is well lit, and I am in eyesight of the young clerk in the store.
I get in my car with my groceries. As I wait on traffic, so I can back out of my parking place, I notice him enter Family Dollar. Trust the Law of the Situation, obey that law, says Follett.
Dénouement I am in a period of transition, a new era of leadership is emerging, and I am helping it along. MY leadership until 2000, was out of the XYZ-box, and it was in the past, since I took my first leadership course in my Ph.D. program at University of Illinois, taught by leadership theorist Greg Oldham, back in 1976. He said, ‘leadership has been dead for 50 years” and that was some 40 years ago, 90 all total. That is how long we have known and taught the XYZ-In-The-Box approaches.
My two stories are a “qualitative leap” into a new leadership formation, taking its shape, as I encounter the “vague foreboding of something unknown, these are the heralds of approaching change” (Hegel, 1807: # 11). Foreboding means something bad is going to happen, and it’s an intuition. On one hand, ELT is emerging Out-of-the-XYZ-Box, but on the other hand, a fearful apprehension, an anxiety, some trepidation, and a dread of alarm that the ELT will not surface fast enough to be the future of these two heralds of storytelling. The two heralds, the store clerk, the begging man, are part of the sunburst, a brief abductive flash at the little Mexican store, a glimpse of the new world of leadership Out-of-the-XYZ-Box, and the antithesis, that its too little ELT, and too late.
The point of the ELT’s class event, their Forum Theater, is that ‘we the people’ are the creators and agents of the Situation, both herald are facing, the micromanaging everywhere, as we saw in last week’s class 39% of Americans work for a bully boss, and as we discussed Feb 22nd, there is a growing homelessness in USA, and all the donations generously given in front of the Wal-Mart is not closing the gap of need.
What is dialectic?
There are many kinds of dialectic. Hegel (1807) wrote against the idea of a ‘synthesis’ kind of dialectic. You have heard of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Do a search of Hegel’s book online, and you will not fund the word ‘synthesis.’ If you read a commentator on Hegel, and they tell you Hegel’s dialectic is thesis-antithesis-synthesis, they really never read Hegel at all. Close the book, and go to the original. Instead of synthesis, Hegel wrote about a kind of dialectic where thesis and antithesis in a conflict unfolding, each have contradictions that come forth, and those difference keep intertwining in entanglement after entanglement. See Appendix for more on dialectic.
For dialectical development Hegel (1807: #12) gives the example of the newborn child. The newborn need a lot of what I call ‘fore-caring’ by its parents, and by Science. Hegel calls Science the “crown of Spirit: in the beginnings, the newborn, in this case ELT, is in its beginnings, it is in the midst of widespread upheaval in the USA, a “complicated” and “tortuous” requiring “strenuous effort” along an unfolding path way beyond the “simple Notion of the whole”, as the “Science” makes it way. “The new spirit is the product of widespread upheaval in various forms of culture” (IBID, #12). Leadership science, the science of ELT is newborn, and in a Situation, the newborn is taking her first steps, and acquiring, newly born meaning.
While the initial appearance of ELT is being unveiled, in the class event of Forum Theater, in the stories of the two heralds, it is a precarious existence of the newborn. The newly emerging shape of ELT, making antithesis opposition to XYZ-Box, and tarrying with some story encounters, at the Mexican story. It helps make articulations that give the appearance of ELT Being-present, Being-here, in manifestations that are somewhat comprehensible, somewhat intelligible, already familiar to me in an unscientific way. These close encounters with direct access ELT, are in the early stages, and no where near ready to refute the criticisms of 90 years of In-the-Box-XYZ leadership scientists. The struggles of leadership in society (Mgt 388v) are to find intelligibility, to get at stories of first sightings of ELT, to create the ground for ELT science to emerge. I have said XYZ-In-the-Box leadership has unfulfilled promises (Hegel, #14), and so does ELT. XYZ is everywhere in American organizations of every kind (business, government, non-profit, university, and so on). But ELT is hardly anywhere, in a classroom, once, in and out of a Mexican store in Las Cruces, twice.
The PowerPoint, the formula I gave, on Feb 22, 2017 in the Leadership in Society course:
Figure 2: How Mary Parker Follett is a Dialectical Development from Hegel
Mary Parker Follett, has this Notion of the dialectic, where the common purpose of a group (organization or society) can allow ‘invisible leaders’ (they are not people, but something non-corporeal), allows the kind of power-with, so that group, we (Rosile, Boje, & Inez, 2016) are calling ELT, can obey the situation.
There are a few more Notions that Follett draws from Hegel’s dialectical development approach.
Figure 3 – How ELT relates to Six Key Notions of Follett’s Dialectic
Follett wanted to resolve conflicts by integrative unity, rather than by domination or by forcing ‘compromises.’ Genuine democracy is not majority rule, not that shallow vote sort of democracy, rather its having groups that self-organize, self-manage, and are at the community level, and the backbone of a business, or a university. The Law of the Situation, is as they say in Dragnet ‘Just the Facts’ but it’s a jointly studied Situation, and an agreement by all parties, all sides, to do co-inquiry into the facts of the Situation, including how the Situation is emerging, changing, and moving along. Celebrate diversity, means treating differences and diversity of cultures as an assets, rather than trying to eliminate diversity, integrate the differences, into something creative in what we now call Problem-Based-Learning (in Denmark). Grow your power-with, avoid power-over, and learn that no one can empower you, you have to Self-Empower your own Self by gaining capacity for power. Invisible Leaderà Common Purpose means that the Situation itself is the ‘invisible leader’ and by scientific co-study, joint-projects of inquiry across divides, it is possible to create common purpose, which for me, is the basis and foundation of Ensemble Leadership.
“To me, this comes out in Follett’s appreciation of Hegel’s dialectic. Its not the tired old saw of these-antithesis-synthesis. The point of Hegelian dialectic is there is no synthesis, as Follett puts it, just continuously evolving Situation in a play of differences in the Whole Situation” (See blog post How to Implement Ensemble Leadership Practices at a Public University? For more on this point).
What is Ensemble Leadership Theory?
Ensemble Leadership Theory (ELT, for short) is the rescue of an old tribal approach to leadership that is thousands of years old, recovered in a paper just published by Rosile, Boje, and Nez (2016, click for online version). Its next iteration is in the Follett concepts in Figures 2 and 3 above,
We don’t delve into the Hegel or the Follett roots of ELT in the article. This exploration I am doing here and now with you.
What are the Follett Relations to ELT?
Follett brilliantly was able to put Hegel’s dialectics into accessible writing. As I summarize in my blog post: “Ensemble Leadership is about democratic participative leadership displacing top-down leadership in the public university, and in society. It is closing the circle, so there is two-way influence, not one-way influence. By closing the circle, Mary Parker Follett is referring to Hegel, to a dialectic that had a manifesting spirit, in the spirit of reason, and that included scientific methods of working out a Situation. Ensemble Leadership is dialectic, and it is the Law of the Situation, surrender to the situation, just like Alice in Wonderland. What is a university if not a Wonderland? “”You must remember how Alice in Wonderland had to run as fast as she could to stand still” (Follett, p. 264). Is that not how fast our adjuncts and graduate student teachers are running? Ensemble Leadership is fore-caring for the good of the New Mexico Community (the nation, the world) and its fore-caring for the ecology, it’s fore-caring for the Total Situation of NMSU” (IBID.). And a bit more “Follett rejected the idea of Hegelian synthesis as a misunderstanding of Hegelian dialectic. This more precise understanding of dialectic, as the uncovering of differences, and how to develop power-with rather than power-over, is something that could extend the socioeconomic approach of Savall” (IBID, Savall is text we use in Mgt448 small business consulting). Fore-caring is my own term, colleagues and I use to explore ways in which Martin Heidegger made his corrections to Hegel’s dialectics (that is something I teach in Mgt 685 and Mgt 655 doctoral courses).
It is more than the opposition between truth and falsity. That simplistic opposition does not comprehend the diversity of systems of unfolding of truth in its dialectical process. We have in the United States and in our university more than simple disagreements (# 2, Hegel, 1807, Phenomenology of Spirit).
I have this gives you some Notion of the development possibilities of ELT, how we are dipping our toes into the new ELT Science of leadership how self-organizing, self-differentiating, self-integrating can help us arrive Out-of-the-Box, then realize there is no Box, but the one of our own making. The Situation is changing, evolving, and morphing into something else. I believe it is calling forth as invisible leader, the new paradigm of leadership, the newborn, called ELT.
I made some recommendations at a speech on Valentine’s Day:
1.No tuition for students attending public universities and colleges. Public education is a ‘social good’ a way to build middle class mobility.
2.Increase number of full-time tenure line faculty because the quality of teaching and learning goes up with more faculty, not with more administrators.
3.Adopt Mary Parker Follett’s (1941: 94) recommendation to have the imagination to see the possibilities of enterprise democracy to ‘integrative unity.” The university is not a business and should not be run like one.
4.Mary Parker Follett’s consulting approach be adopted and NMSU never again hire the Deloitte consulting firm, who were paid $622,700 dollars of tax payer money for 10 weeks and one PowerPoint presentation to Board of Regent and the Chancellor, and Deloitte is not scientifically proven to be best practice, are actually discredited in peer-reviewed studies
5.Abolish ‘Team Six’ rearranging deck chairs on our Titanic. Alternative is science, fact-gathering by scores of teams that are face-to-face meetings of students, with faculty, with staff, with administrators the jointly do science according to Follett’s Law of the Situation, engage in co-operative study, making actual experiments, evaluate results, and only then make an informed decision about university reorganization. As Follett (1941: 51) puts it “we should try experiments, and note whether they succeed or fail, most important of all, why they succeed or fail.”
6. Embrace diversity and our differences. Do ‘real’ scientific methods of university change. What Follett proposes is a joint responsibility for integrative unity, implementing democratic participation by everyone taking responsibility, and jointly analyzing the Total Situation, scientifically.
7. Stop using tax money to develop a 27-hole golf course, and in the name of transparency put the reports back on line of how golf at NMSU with 18 holes used one million gallons of water a day, that could be better used by agriculture, keeping the Rio Grande River flowing all year round, getting water to the colonias on both sides of Mexico-New Mexico border. Colonias are considered semi-rural subdivisions of substandard housing lacking basic physical infrastructure, potable water, sanitary sewage, and adequate roads.
8. Deconstruct the TINA Narrative. TINA stands for ‘There Is No Alternative’ a favorite saying of Margaret Thatcher, and repeated by Ronald Regan, was they went after Public Education budgets. There is an alternative to TINA! Just stop using roulette speculative capital funding of K-12 and higher education with gas and oil severance taxes. This is the Situation, the facts of the case: Gas and oil is boom and bust cycles, which serve to send public education into downward spiral. Hoping for the next gas and oil boom is a form of gambling addition,
9. Our governor appoint a bipartisan Board of Regents, each of whom has a masters degrees or Ph.D., preferably in Education.
10. Follow Mary Parker Follett’s ways of resolving conflict. There are three ways to resolve conflict. First, by domination, the administrative order (from Governor to Board of Regents, to the Chancellor) can implement by domination, by power-over, by top-down authoritarian rule, appoint task teams of narrow or no participation, to decide all the changes made. Second, conflict can be resolved by compromise, where there are sides, and one side wins while the other loses. Resolve conflicts by integrating differences in creative problem soling, where we co-actively and jointly obey the Law of the Situation, study it with scientific methods, experiments, sharing results, and make democratic intelligent decisions based on the facts of the situation (not majority vote, not domination, not compromise, rather by integrative unity).
See previous blogs on Mary Parker Follett and Ensemble Leadership
PowerPoint, on Mary Parker Follett and Ensemble Leadership I gave, on Feb 22, 2017 in the Mgt 388v Leadership in Society course
Follett, M. P. (1898). The Speaker of the House of Representatives. Longmans, Green & Co. NY, NY.
Follett, M. P., & Hart, A. B. (1902). The Speaker of the House of Representatives with an Introduction by AB Hart. Longmans, Green, & Company.
Follett, M. P. (1918). The New State: Group organization the solution of popular government. University Park, PN: Penn State Press.
Follett, M. P. (1919). Community is a process. The Philosophical Review, 28(6), 576-588.
Follett, M. P. (1924/1930). Creative Experience. Рипол Классик; NY/London: Longmans, Green and Co. on line at http://ww.pqm-online.com/assets/files/lib/books/follett.pdf
Follett, M. P. (1926). The giving of orders. Scientific foundations of business administration, 156-162.
Follett, M. P. (1941). Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett, edited by Metcalf, H. C., & Urwick, L. F. NY/London: Harper and Brothers.
Follett, M.P. (1949.1987). Freedom and Co-ordination. Lectures in Business Organization. Edited, with an Introduction by L. Urwick. NY/London: Garland Publishing.
Heon, F.; Davis, A.; Jones-Patulli, J.; Damart, S. (2014). The Essential Mary Parker Follett Ideas we Need Today. Published by the authors. ISBN: 978-0-9939553-0-3
Rosile, Grace Ann; Boje, David M.; Nez, Carma Claw. (2016). “Ensemble Leadership Theory: Collectivist, Relational, and Heterarchical Roots from Indigenous Contexts.” Leadership journal. CLICK HERE for online PDF
Hegel. (1807). The Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by A. V. Miller with analysis and foreword by J. N. Findlay, Oxford University Press download online version:
Rosile, Grace Ann; Boje, David M.; Nez, Carma Claw. (2016). “Ensemble Leadership Theory: Collectivist, Relational, and Heterarchical Roots from Indigenous Contexts.” Leadership journal. Online at http://davidboje.com/vita/paper_pdfs/Ensemble_Leadership_article.pdf
APPENDIX: From chapter I am doing for Book on Follett and Hegelian Dialectic
“Many scholars have ignored or failed to recognize the Hegelian and dialectic roots of Mary Parker Follett’s work. Salimath and Lemak (2004), for example, do not review dialectics or Hegelian philosophy as influential to Follett’s lifelong learning philosophy. Bathurst and Monin (2010) miss the Hegelian aspects of Follett’s key notions, such as circularity, and treat dialectic as a simple paradox: “Follett’s philosophy leads her to insist on circularity as her predominant construct, for circularity implies continual movement and renegotiation of meanings” (p. 128). Eylon (1998) remarks how Follett applies dialectic and cyclical process to empowerment, but misses how Follett is thoroughly Hegelian. “Until we acknowledge the dynamic and dialectic nature of empowerment, and the potential this offers to organizations, its value is limited” (Eylon, 1998: 25).
Follett (1918) comments on false readings of Hegel is widespread and even the pragmatist William James misses how their solution is against the spirit of Hegel (p. 266-267). Hegel reconciles it in the not in of the ‘compounding of consciousness’ (total relativity where the true Self is not warring against the Whole) (p. 266). Follett (p. 163) refers to Hebert Spencer’s social Darwinism (survival of the fittest) as a “false political philosophy built on an unrelated individual” and to the “disastrous results of laissez-faire” (p. 163). Follett is looking at dialectics as complex interpenetration in a social process “out of the intermingling, interacting activities of men and women surge up the forces of life” powers are born which we had not dreamed of, ideas take shape and grow, forces are generated which act and react on each other. This is the dialectic of life” (p. 149). Follett’s conflict and power in her notion of integrative unity among differences are embedded within a dialectic process.
Verstegen and Rutherford (2000: 209-210) attribute synthesis to Hegel in the misguided model of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Hegel never used the term synthesis, and saw dialectic as an uncovering of successive contradictions. As Kaag (2008: 149) explains: ‘Follett’s understanding of ideal group dynamics stands apart from a standard understanding of consensus formation, compromise, or political unity. She explains that “to integrate is not to absorb, melt, fuse or reconcile in the so-called Hegelian sense. The creative power of the individual appears not when one wish dominates others, but when all wishes unite in a working whole’ (Follett, 1919: 576).””