Managing a riot: Chester Barnard and social unrest

James Hoopes (Division of History and Society, Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 1 December 2002


This paper examines a key event in the life of Chester Barnard, a “riot of the unemployed” in Trenton, New Jersey in 1935 when Barnard was director of the state Emergency Relief Administration. In a later influential lecture at Harvard, Barnard used the incident to support the ideas of the Harvard human relations group that recognition and dignity were more powerful motivators than money and fear. Contemporary newspaper accounts show that the rioters were motivated more strongly by monetary concerns than Barnard admitted. Barnard was misled by the ideology of the Harvard human relations group to underestimate the importance of power and money, an underestimation that may still be important today, given his continuing influence. That a man of Barnard’s integrity was misled by his ideology is grounds for us in our time to maintain some humility as to the extent of our managerial knowledge.



Hoopes, J. (2002), "Managing a riot: Chester Barnard and social unrest", Management Decision, Vol. 40 No. 10, pp. 1013-1023.

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Copyright © 2002, MCB UP Limited

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