Isaac Guzmán Valdivia: biography of this Administration expert

Isaac Guzmán Valdivia is a character from Mexico in the 20th century. Although he trained in law, he has contributed much to the field of philosophy, sociology and the Mexican business world, especially to the field of administration.

Having ideas a song contrary to what the businessmen of his time thought, he knew how to change the course of the business sector of his country doing it from within, that is, forming part of the employer’s association.

Next we will see in more detail who went through a biography of Isaac Guzmán Valdivia, in which we will learn about his life and the ideas of his main works.

Brief biography of Isaac Guzmán Valdivia

Isaac Guzmán Valdivia was a Mexican philosopher, sociologist and businessman who stood out for having brought a new social approach to business administration. Through his works he gave importance to the influence of foreign administrative thought in the development of administration as a practical science in Mexico.

His works covered concepts related to Mexican society both economically and politically., in addition to highlighting what freedoms people should have as citizens of their country and workers in organizations.

Early years

Isaac Guzmán Valdivia was born on October 22, 1905 in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, and his parents were Gilberto Guzmán Venegas and Josefina Valdivia de Guzmán, both also native to Guanajuato. All his primary education studies were attended by public institutions.

He continued studying in his native region, completing his university studies at the State College, currently the University of Guanajuato, where he would receive his degree in Law and Public Notary on October 20, 1928. After graduation in 1930 he began to teach classes in social sciences in that same institution.

Years of teaching

He began giving classes by teaching the chair of General Theory of the State in his Alma Mater and, later, he would give History of Economic Doctrines and Philosophy of Law until 1936, the year in which he ceased to be a teacher at the State College.

Although he was comfortable in Guanajuato Isaac Guzmán Valdivia saw opportunities in the city of Torreón in the state of Coahuila. In this way he decided to embark on a new course in his life, leaving his wife Adela Bustamante Dueñas in Guanajuato and visiting both the state of Coahuila and the neighboring states.

Around this time Guzmán Valdivia began to develop with the Employers’ Confederation of the Mexican Republic and, in 1938, He would found the Carlos Pereyra High School in Torreón de Coahuila. Later, in 1944, he would go to the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.

In 1946 he went to live in Mexico City, where he taught sociology at the Centro Cultural Universitario, and Introduction to Philosophy at the Centro Universitario de México from 1948 to 1955. Then he would go on to teach Sociology at the Escuela Libre de Law from 1950 to 1986.

In 1947 he wrote his book “For a social metaphysics”, a text in which he analyzes the Mexican social phenomenon but addressing it from a metaphysical perspective. In this work he tries to explain and determine the causes of its existence of the social processes that Mexico in the first half of the 20th century was experiencing, a work with an important Christian influence, a faith that Isaac Guzmán Valdivia kept alive throughout all his works and his life.

In 1949 he participated in the signing of the Mexican Collective Agreement, which is considered by many to be Guzmán Valdivia’s first major participation in the economic sphere of his country, acting as a member of the Technical Commission. This event would lead him to become concerned about the social cause, something that would motivate him to later write his work “El Destino de México”, with certain nationalist and patriotic touches.

Representative of Mexico

As we have mentioned, Isaac Guzmán Valdivia was part of the Employers’ Confederation of the Mexican Republic or COPARMEX, originally in Torreón de Coahuila, although it would later be transferred to Mexico City in 1945.

In 1947 he published his first work really related to the world of administration, “La Organización Patronal en México”. This text exposes several works presented at the National Conventions organized by the Employers’ Confederation of the Mexican Republic between 1945 and 1946.

He himself commented in relation to this publication that he was in the business sector, a very fertile place for his work, although it was not easy to do it. The businessmen of that time had a very closed mind and their behavior was very individualistic, radical and uncompromising, making the business world very recalcitrant.

At that time, as leader of the Mexican employer’s association, Guzmán Valdivia had the means and the authority to initiate changes in the sector. Contributed to the training of civil servants, heads of person and directors of industrial relations, who had in their power to solve the problems of relations between the unions and the employer.

While still at COPARMEX Guzmán Valdivia would reach the position of national president of the institution and, thanks to this, he represented Mexico in Geneva, Switzerland, before the International Labor Office (ILO). He would also represent his country at the International Congress of Administration in Paris and White Sulfur Springs in West Virginia in 1957 and 1958.

Since 1957 He directed the Mexican Association of Scientific Administration, an organization he founded to train executives of Mexican companies of his time. Throughout eight years in that institution he taught courses to more than seven thousand Mexican officials. In addition, during this time he would institutionalize the career of Industrial Relations in Mexico.

Main works

Isaac Guzmán Valdivia shows influences from the foreign administrative culture, although he always based his work on the Mexican way of thinking and acting and related it to the business world to create his own theories. Also, and as we have commented before, his works receive Christian influences attributed to various American authors, especially Argentine, Mexican and American.

Throughout his life he wrote 24 texts, of which 19 were published and 5 were never released after his death, which occurred on October 22, 1988 at the age of 83. Next we are going to take a closer look at the works that have given him the most renown in the administrative area: “Reflections on Administration”, “The Science of Administration” and “Our Reconquest, Religion and Nationality”.

1. Reflections on Administration (1961)

In “Reflections on Administration” Guzmán Valdivia tries to make the business world understand how important administration is as a fundamental basis for the management of a society, although he also emphasizes that it is not an absolute science. The reason that it is not an exact science is that, being linked to the social, it must adapt to the principles and beliefs of each person, that is, to their way of behaving, being and system of beliefs and thought.

For this reason, he claims that it is a gross error to give a single approach to the administration, since the population is not homogeneous and the same solution will not work for everyone, far from it. Although it is important to have certain structural bases as a standard model, there must be some flexibility, being able to adapt to the way of being and acting of each person.

2. The Science of Management (1963)

In “The Science of Administration” the author tells us about a widely discussed and quite controversial issue in the Latin American scene, which is the foreign influences of businessmen. In this book exposes how linked the beliefs of company leaders are in administrative processes and how these influence the lives of Mexicans.

One of the main contributions of Isaac Guzmán Valdivia for the administration was his arguments in favor of considering it a science, although, as we have commented, not as exact as chemistry or physics could be. Even so, the author compares several areas and characteristics of the administration at that time with other characteristics that the more exact sciences possess, reaching the conclusion that administration is a practical science.

3. Our Reconquest, Religion and Nationality (1941)

In his book “Our Reconquest, Religion and Nationality” he addresses, as his title suggests, aspects related to Mexican nationality, his cultural and ethnic identity, as well as the religious importance for him and the rest of the Mexican people. Here he explains his ideological doctrine, of which we can highlight the following points:

  • The nation, as a unit, is above classes or groups.
  • The person must have security and freedom to be able to fulfill his wishes with dignity.
  • The State must fight for the common good and apply justice, security and defend the collective interest.
  • Order in the nation will serve to avoid poverty and ignorance.
  • The freedom of man requires that the State not control consciences.
  • The State is obliged to teach, but should not have a monopoly on this issue.
  • Human labor is not a commodity; workers have rights.
  • The private initiative must be promoted and guaranteed by the State.
  • Private property ensures national production and guarantees human dignity.
  • Peasants must have full ownership of their land.
  • The State has authority but not ownership in the national economy
  • The municipality must be autonomous, responsible and subject to the will of its governed.
  • Through law, the State exercises justice.
  • Political life must be exercised through the will of the people, and be the result of their intelligent decisions.

Bibliographic references:

  • Angles-Chávez, AL (nd) Brief biography of Isaac Guzmán Valdivia.
  • Guzmán-Valdivia, I. (1949) Notes for a theory of the social sciences. Proceedings of the First National Congress of Philosophy, Mendoza, Argentina.


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