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Essay on Chester Barnard’s theory


Chester Barnard’s thoughts were individuals centered, focusing on the consideration that must be paid to casual or informal parts of the association (Llopis Casellas, 2011). However, his work, which fits inside, was most likely affected by the thinking of human relations school of thought and management that rose up out of the Hawthorne Studies of 1920s. Human relations approach to management, which is behavioural in nature, is perceived to be more prominent in relation to Chester Barnard’s ideas. Barnard was extremely compelling during his time, and on that basis, is seen as one of the originator of association hypothesis or theory (Llopis Casellas, 2011). Barnard placed more emphasis on the social parts or aspects of the association or organization, at a time period when traditional administration prevailed, which concentrated generally on standards. However, Chester Barnard’s thoughts stood out from those of Taylor, Fayol and Max Weber because as opposed to considering administration or management to be an experimental or scientific procedure, Barnard saw its casual or informal side.

According to Henry Fayol, an organization is managed by fourteen principles of management (Golden Pryor and Taneja, 2010). Henry Fayol, as opposed to Chester Barnard, perceived an organization as being managed by principles, of which he defined the fourteen principles. According to Fayol, an organization must have good forecasting techniques inorder to forecast its operating environment, owing to the fact that business environments are competitive and dynamic. Additionally, Fayol required organizations to exercise proper planning and organizing. Whereas planning involves defining the proper course of action for an organization, organizing requires ensuring that an organization puts resources in order. Further, Fayol advocated for an organization having coordinating, commanding and controlling functions (Golden Pryor and Taneja, 2010).

Hawthorne Studies focused so much on ways of improving productivity in an organization, unlike Chester Barnard, who was interested in focusing on communication, and establishing works of executives in an organization. Hawthorne Studies main focus was on human relations, how to improve productivity among employees, and generally what affects employees’ performance in an organization.

Organization and communication

The contributions of Chester Barnard majorly focused on the significance of people and correspondence or communication to association structure. His written work, while passing on the pragmatic experience whereupon it is based, is frequently very hypothetical, and the troublesome phrasing can make it difficult to take after. The thoughts introduced are a piece of a comprehensive managerialist rationality suggesting that supervisors in vast associations ought to be as committed to social change and modernization the same way their legislative partners do, with the ethical power to outfit innovation and markets for general society great (Llopis Casellas, 2011).

Chester Barnard characterizes an association as an arrangement of intentionally co-ordinated exercises or strengths from more than two persons, according to his book, functions of executives (Llopis Casellas, 2011). The two important catchphrases utilized as a part of this definition are system or framework and co-ordinated. Chester Barnard perceived fruitful association as a co-agent framework in which viable correspondence empowers people to accomplish significantly more on the whole than they could in segregation. With this perspective, Barnard became the first to use the frameworks way or the systems approach to deal with administration. He trusted that authoritative survival and achievement relied on upon the production of co-operation by directors

Executive’s functions

Basically, Chester Barnard, in his book Functions of the executives, identified three major principle elements of an official or executive to be:

Firstly, functions of executives involve developing, implementing and improving systems of communication in an organization (Llopis Casellas, 2011). Communication is an important element that contributes to the overall success of any organization. Success in an organization is solely defined and achieved when all the objectives set by the organization are fully achieved. Therefore, to ensure complete and successful accomplishment of goal and objectives, communication is paramount. Managers and executives should put in place systems that encourage communication in the organizational setup. Communication is key in motivating employees and creates an avenue where employees air their grievances.

Secondly, executive functions involve appointing and maintaining powerful specialists (Llopis Casellas, 2011). Since Barnard perceives an organization as a system, it is important that elements in the system are contributed to the successful operation of the system. Executives have an important role of appointing, nurturing and maintaining specialists, who re special elements in the overall system. For organizational success, employees’ expertise and qualifications is important too. An organization’s executive should ensure that employees recruited into the organization are qualified and possess necessary skills that contribute to achievement of objectives, the ultimate measure of success.

Thirdly, another element of organizational executives is motivation of organization’s specialists or employees (Llopis Casellas, 2011). Employees in an organization must be properly motivated if increased productivity is to be achieved. Motivation refers to those factors, both internal and external, that stimulate some forms of energy in persons or individuals to continue being interested in something (Korzynski, 2013). Managers or executives must know that employees’ form of motivation should not only be monetary. It has been known that the higher the level of motivation, the higher the level of productivity.

Chester Barnard, seeing the correspondence or communication framework in an association as the way to hierarchical accomplishment, Barnard pointed out three standards for ensuring that there if effective communication:

The first principle, according to Barnard, requires that each and every one in the organization must recognize what the channels of correspondence or communication are. Effective channels of communication should be established in an organizational setup if all objectives, which is a measure of success, must be achieved. There must be effective channels of upward communication that ensure that employees’ grievances are properly channeled. Similarly, an organization must have effective downward communication channels that ensure that management communicates matters of importance to the employees in the organization. Therefore, communication channels in an organization should be two-way traffic, i.e., should move in all directions, upwards and downwards (Westgaard, 2008).

The second principle requires that everyone in an organizational setup must have entry to a formal correspondence channel. A formal communication channel in an organization ensures that policies, goals and objectives and procedures are appropriately communicated to employees. It is a channel through which the organization conveys matters of importance to all relevant stakeholders. An example of a formal form of a communication is a newsletter, which officially communicates organizations vision and mission to organization’s employees and clients. However, there could be the existence of informal forms of communication, which are not recognized by the organization. Therefore, for effective operation of organizations, there must be existence of formal forms of communication, which must be accessed by all employees in the organization (Westgaard, 2008).

The third principle of effective communication according to Chester Barnard requires that communication channels in an organization ought to be kept not only short but also direct. For long, long forms of communication channels have been known to be extremely in-effective and greater causes of inconvenience. For effective communication to thrive in an organization, communication channels should not only be short but also direct. Channels of communication refer to the official procedures followed before a message if finally conveyed to the recipient. The longer the channel, the longer the period of time that will elapse before the message if finally conveyed, and vice versa. Similarly, the more direct the channel is the better for meeting organizational and stakeholder needs (Westgaard, 2008).

As a feature of his interchanges hypothesis, Barnard’s acknowledgment hypothesis of power suggests that a manager applies power from above, and achievement relies on upon its acknowledgment by the representatives oversaw. Along these lines, representatives decide how legitimate their administrator is and, therefore, the fundamental center of an official should be on making the right conditions to expand acknowledgment levels. To ensure that there is total acceptance of authority on the part of employees, and that resistance is eliminated, Chester Barnard recommended that this should be possible if: Firstly, managers become clear regarding what they request that representatives do. There should be proper guidance and direction from the managers regarding what employees are required to do. This however reduces chances of employees doing what is not a requirement from them by their supervisors. Therefore, to exercise legitimate authority, and that the authority is respected and honored by employees, mangers should clearly communicate to employees what is required of them. Secondly, employees comprehend what their director needs them to do. Letting employees know what is required of them is not enough. Barnard further noted that of importance is to make sure that employees clearly understand what their directors want them to do. Thirdly, employees are fit for consenting or complying. For effectiveness and acceptance of authority, employees should be in a position to comply with instructions. However, the extent to which employee will comply to instructions is largely affected whether managers communicated to employees what is required of them, and whether employees clearly understood what they were communicated to.

Barnard, in his theory of communication, made a requirement that employees should likewise see how their work accomplishes organizational set goals and objectives. Similarly, Barnard required administrators to concentrate on procedure or strategy, and in his book functions of executives, he outlined the official procedure of strategic formulation and planning, an element he perceived as essential to putting the association headed for accomplishing its general destinations.

Informal organizations and authority

A standout amongst the most vital courses in which Barnard recommended that administrators can expand employees’ acknowledgment of their power or authority and requests is through their acknowledgment and utilization of three zones, defining limits inside which individuals assess orders, characterized as indifference zones, neutrality zones and unacceptability zones. The indifference zone for requests or orders is the most astounding worthy extent inside which requests will be complied, and Barnard trusted that administrative work included enlarging this zone using different forms of incentives together with inducements. With apparently cutting edge knowledge, he recommended that material motivating forces were inadequate, and that individual motivators, for example, expanded forms of power, would seem more viable and effective.

Barnard was the main scholar to expound on the significance of the casual or formal association, and perceive the impact of what is presently comprehended as corporate society or culture and its related qualities and customs. According to Chester Barnard, the most important and crucial role of the executives is forming and keeping up informal association through utilizing immaterial impact to help shape values in the organization and advance congruity and self-control. He trusted that qualities ought to be in-fabricated and cognizant with the various parts of the association to advance authoritative achievement. This is firmly identified with his acknowledgment hypothesis of power, since acknowledgment will be more prominent in instances where employees trust that their activities will add to the basic authoritative objective or goal.

Contrast of Chester Bernard’s theory with Hawthorne Studies

Human relations theorists, commonly known as the Hawthorne Studies, focused much on how to improve productivity (Bruce and Nyland, 2011). The Hawthorne Studies, whose main focus was on how to improve productivity among employees, is different from Chester Barnard’s theory, which sees an organization as a system whose success depends on effective communication and implementation of good leadership styles by management. Further, Chester Barnard’s theory requires that for authority to be respected and honored there must be clear communication from the management to employees, and that employees understand orders from the management. Therefore, the Hawthorne Studies’ view is different from Chester Barnard’s view. Whereas the Hawthorne Studies places a lot of emphasis on human relations, reducing emphasis on how to influence the behaviour of employees, Chester Barnard capitalizes on this. Additionally, the Hawthorne Studies assumes that there is no conflict in organizations and therefore does not focus on how to deal with conflicts when they arise. In contrast, Chester Barnard comprehends the fact that conflicts do occur, and that conflicts can be effectively solved whenever there is effective communication channels.

Contrast of Chester Barnard’s theory with Henry Fayol’s principles of management

According to Henry Fayol, an organization is made up of rules and regulations, and therefore he indicated the fourteen principles of management (Golden Pryor and Taneja, 2010). According to Fayol for an organization to achieve its objectives, it should do proper forecasting and should exercise proper controlling and planning. Additionally, there should be proper commanding in the organization, proper coordination of resources and proper organization. In contrast, Chester Barnard indicated that for full achievement of organizational objectives, an organization should have proper channels of communication. Additionally, according to Chester Barnard, an organization is seen as a system and therefore for proper coordination of its elements, there must be effective communication channels.

Contributions of the three theories in modern management

The three theories, though advocated for many years ago, are still relevant in Modern day management. For example, Fayol’s principle of specialization and division of labor is applicable in most organizations today. Similarly, Barnard’s view of an organization as a system coordinated through effective communication is very relevant in modern management. Hawthorne Studies’ contribution is also relevant to modern management.


In conclusion, Chester Barnard’s view of an organization as a system is very true and applicable in the modern management of organizations. The Hawthorne Studies focused much on how improve employee productivity, placing less emphasis on development of effective structures like communication systems, to ensure that organization’s objectives are achieved. Chester Barnard, however, realized that for the success of any organization, communication is important. Barnard’s contributions to management are still very relevant in modern management since effective communication channel is required by management to communicate to employees. Similarly, an effective communication channel is also required by employees to air their grievances to management.


Bruce, K. and Nyland, C. (2011) ‘Elton Mayo and the deification of human relations’, Organization Studies, 32(3), pp. 383–405.

Golden Pryor, M. and Taneja, S. (2010) ‘Henri Fayol, practitioner and theoretician – revered and reviled’, Journal of Management History, 16(4), pp. 489–503.

Korzynski, P. (2013) ‘Employee motivation in new working environment’, International Journal of Academic Research, 5(5), pp. 184–188.

Llopis Casellas, J. (2011) ‘what good executives do: How have management roles and functions changed?’ IESE Insight, (8), pp. 5–5.

Westgaard, O. (2008) ‘Allow me to introduce. CHESTER BARNARD’, Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(2), pp. 77–79.