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The Functions of the Executive at 75: An Invitation to Reconsider a Timeless Classic


Journal of Management Inquiry

Published online on


The year 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Chester I. Barnard’s classic, The Functions of the Executive, a groundbreaking contribution to management theory. We maintain that Barnard’s work provides a valuable perspective on the causes and potential solutions to challenges facing capitalism, business, and management consequent to the scandals and financial crises of the early 21st century. We believe Barnard would see a systemic failure of the moral dimension of organization as a driver of these crises, and that management theory and practice need to focus on both the science and the aesthetics of management. We look back on The Functions and provide a review of key elements of Barnard’s theory of organization. We then look forward from The Functions and see unique insights and solutions into the ongoing challenges of managerial morality.