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TECH TALK: Peter Drucker: Managements Newton: Peter Drucker: Managements Newton: Profile

November 29th, 2005 · No Comments

The Wikipedia entry for Peter Drucker gives a brief profile of his life: Peter Ferdinand Drucker (November 19, 1909 November 11, 2005) was a management theorist who created many phrases common in business today. Drucker, born in Vienna, Austria, fled from the Nazis to the United States in 1937. In 1943, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He taught at New York University as Professor of Management from 1950 to 1971. From 1971 to his death he was the Clarke Professor of Social Science and Management at Claremont Graduate University. He wrote thirty nine books, the first in 1939, and from 1975 to 1995 was an editorial columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and was a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review. He continued to act as a consultant to businesses and non-profit organizations when he was in his nineties.

The Economist wrote:

Mr Drucker was born in 1909 in the Austrian upper middle classhis father was a government officialand educated in Vienna and Germany. He earned a doctorate in international and public law from Frankfurt university in 1931. In normal times this would have led to a distinguished, if predictable, academic career. But those were not normal timesand Mr Drucker was not a man to bow down to the confines of academic disciplines. He spent his 20s trying to avoid Adolf Hitler and drifting among a number of jobs, including banking, consultancy, academic law and journalism (his journalistic career included a spell as the acting editor of a women’s page).

Along the way, he became increasingly convinced that the best hope for saving civilisation from barbarism lay in the humdrum science of management. He was too sensitive to the thinness of the crust of civilisation to share the classic liberal faith in the market, but too clear-sighted to embrace the growing fashion for big-government solutions. The man in the grey-flannel suit held out more hope for mankind than either the hidden hand or the gentleman in Whitehall.

He finally found a home in American academia, teaching politics, philosophy and economics.

The Telegraph wrote:

An Austrian-born exile from Nazi Germany, Drucker made his name as the first modern management guru as a result of a groundbreaking study of the structures and practices of General Motors, which he embarked upon in 1943.
The resulting Concept of the Corporation (1946) looked at a large manufacturing company for the first time as a living social organism; and although GM tried to ban its executives from reading it, the book became an international bestseller.

It argued for treating workers as valued team members, rather than as mere assembly-line fodder, and developed the idea of management as a specialised skill, the aim of which is to make people capable of joint performance, like players in an orchestra under the baton of a conductor, but each responsible for his or her own instrumental part. This was the core of Drucker’s life’s work.

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