Books by Peter F. Drucker

Peter F. Drucker was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1909. Educated in Austria and in England, Mr. Drucker holds a doctorate in Public and International Law from Frankfurt University in Germany. He also has received honorary doctorates from American, Belgian,


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Released: May 1, 1999

The master of management theory (Managing for the Future, 1992, etc.) combines a succinct vision of what's ahead with a condensed training course for weathering the change. Looking toward the future, Drucker analyzes the forces that will impact society and business and describes how the structure of organizations must change in order to deal with them. As a prelude to his outline for managing change (and changing management) he dismisses some concepts—for example, the idea that there is only a single correct organizational structure for a given situation. Drucker suggests considering the modern employee as a "volunteer," motivated to work by a deeper power than the paycheck. Similarly, he states that in the modern workplace a more apt role for a manager is as "leader," not boss. Other changes affecting business are the "crisscross" impact of technologies and the emergence of the "transnational" organization. Like most of Drucker's two dozen or so previous works, this one goes beyond analysis to application. Two of the key arguments in his outline for action: companies need "change leaders" who see change as opportunity, and organizations must learn how to "exploit success." Information technology, a major component of the coming century, is described through the historical perspective of the printing press, then updated with consideration of the Internet, a major new method for the distribution of information in printed form. Drucker believes that, just as traditional management was instrumental in increasing productivity for manual work, modern management must be transformed to play a similar part in the increase in the productivity for "knowledge work," the biggest management challenge of the next century. Finally, he explains that as "individuals can expect to outlive organizations," they must have unique responsibilities in order to survive, if not thrive. Invaluable advice for building a business bridge to the 21st century. Read full book review >
MANAGING IN A TIME OF GREAT CHANGE by Peter F. Drucker
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Released: Nov. 16, 1995

Like the Energizer Bunny, Drucker just keeps on going, and going . . . beating the drum for perceptive, responsible management in the public as well as private sectors. As with many of the maestro's previous works (Post-Capitalist Society, 1993, etc.), most of the essays and interviews here have already been published (in Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs, and elsewhere). Using as a departure point the apprehension that knowledge has become the Global Village's primary resource, Drucker comments on the realities of planning ahead, the sort of intelligence executives require to operate effectively, the consequences of shortchanging research budgets, the likelihood that for-profit enterprises could be obliged to pursue growth through alliances rather than through acquisition, and related topics. To a great extent, Drucker points out, the shape of things to come may be discerned from demographic and allied data that's readily available. In this context, he assesses where sizable new markets might emerge. Geographically, the author sees a wealth of potential in coastal China and other Pacific Basin outposts; commercially, he anticipates substantive opportunities in agrobiology, alternative energy sources, infrastructure projects (including telecommunications networks), pollution abatement, and retirement programs. Drucker goes on to caution that any state's domestic policies can profoundly affect the competitiveness of corporations subject to its jurisdiction. Accordingly, he argues, something more than lip service must be paid to the goal of reinventing government, in large part because the root cause of poverty for countries as well as individuals in tomorrow's world will be ignorance. Nor does Drucker overlook the importance of a so-called third sector, i.e., the nonprofit community-service organizations that address a modern nation's social challenges. In brief: wise, wide-ranging guidance on issues that promise to engage the attention of leaders and followers through the end of the century and beyond. Read full book review >
POST-CAPITALIST SOCIETY by Peter F. Drucker
HISTORY
Released: April 14, 1993

Perceptive takes on the "postcapitalist" era, which, according to Drucker (Managing for the Future, 1992, etc.), got under way shortly after WW II. Every few centuries, the author notes, the West undergoes a convulsive transformation that, within 50 or so years, ushers in a whole new world. Identifying the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution as prior turning points, he asserts that the Global Village is in the midst of another watershed makeover that has already caused substantive changes in its economic, moral, political, and social landscapes. Drucker argues, for instance, that the same forces that put paid to Marxism as an ideology and Communism as a social system are making capitalism obsolete as well. In other words, knowledge (not labor, land, or other forms of capital) has become the planet's primary resource. The emergence of so-called "knowledge workers" able to put their specialized learning and/or competencies to use, he says, suggests that employees now own "the means of production." Although the author concludes that markets will remain the effective integrators of economic activity, he believes that the implications of the ongoing shift will prove increasingly significant for the management of commercial enterprises and other key institutions. The same holds true for what Drucker designates "the post-capitalist polity," in which transnational, regional, nation-state, even tribal structures compete and coexist. As concerned with prescription as description, the author doesn't shy away from calls to action that could make the unstable new world he envisions more productive and peaceable. He advocates, for example, the encouraging of environments that permit corporations to focus on their core responsibilities via partnerships or alliances, and the nurturing of autonomous nonprofit organizations that will restore the bonds of community as well as deliver grass-roots services. A thinking person's guide to the challenging world ahead. Read full book review >
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Released: March 1, 1992

More short-take pieces of Drucker's lively mind. Like its predecessor, The Frontiers of Management (1986), this collection of 40-odd essays (previously published in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere from 1987 through mid-1991) covers a wide variety of topics in four main sections: "Economics," "People," "Management," and "The Organization." This time around, though, there's appreciably less substance to the maestro's jottings. Where before Drucker contrived to give a fresh spin to banal themes (e.g., that change affords opportunity; that the short-term focus of institutional investors is a root cause of the erosion of American competitiveness in world markets), he now has comparatively little to say that's either new or different. Indeed, Drucker sticks disappointingly close to conventional wisdom on the recent primacy of investment over trade in the transnational economy, on the decline of agricultural exports throughout the world, on the importance of structuring R&D programs so business potential (not technology) is the driving force, and on cost-cutting as a permanent policy, the current swing to cross-border alliances, and related subjects. Drucker does, however, offer genuine insights on: executive accountability, the lessons nonprofit enterprises can teach their commercial counterparts, emergent trends in manufacturing, performance measures, the greater willingness of mid-size companies to contract with outside suppliers for support services, and what Japan Inc. is about in foreign climes, including the US. But while the author in low gear is better than most (decidedly so in many cases), there really is no substitute for the coherent, start-to-finish audits that define as well as advance the state of the managerial art—and made Drucker's name a board-room byword. An agreeable pastiche of commentary and broadly prescriptive counsel that touches on a host of prospectively vital issues. Read full book review >
MANAGING THE NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION by Peter F. Drucker
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Released: Nov. 11, 1990

From a management sage of unrivaled stature (The New Realities, 1989, etc.), philosophical as well as practical guidance on running nonprofit institutions. While charitable or cultural organizations, churches, foundations, museums, private schools, service groups, and other nonprofit enterprises still represent less than 3% of GNP, Drucker views them as central to the quality of American life, owing mainly to their status as agents of constructive change. Cautioning that success has ruined more worthy causes than failure, he advises drafting a mission statement that essays opportunities, establishes priorities, takes into tough-minded account available resources, and expresses genuine commitment to specified goals. In this exacting context, Drucker probes the realities of converting good intentions into results, overcoming any tendency to righteousness, reaching not only natural but also new constituencies via targeted marketing campaigns, raising funds, and developing responsible, responsive leadership. He also offers counsel on making decisions whose outcomes cannot be measured in bottom-line terms, getting the most out of boards of trustees, and fostering effectual relations with volunteer workers. To illuminate key issues and points, Drucker includes interviews he conducted with nine experts, drawn primarily from nonprofit organizations. Their ranks encompass top hands from the American Federation of Teachers, American Heart Association, and Girl Scouts, among other organizations, plus an activist Catholic diocese in the heartland and a West Coast theological seminary. A fine contribution to a service sector that could use a management handbook of its very own. Read full book review >
THE NEW REALITIES by Peter F. Drucker
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Released: June 1, 1989

Provocative, wide-angle perspectives on contemporary sociopolitical and economic issues from a wise old head who has long since transcended his status as a management guru. Eschewing futurism. Drucker focuses on the present in hopes of setting an agenda for "the next century," which, he argues persuasively, began quietly at some point between 1965 and 1973. In the author's view, the fact that a watershed was reached and passed confirms the need to address and to comprehend the new age's still unfamiliar realities. Accepting his own challenge, Drucker seeks to define the concerns and controversies "that will be realities for years to come." In this ambitious context, he offers perceptive commentary on the implications of developments ranging from the imminent decolonization of Soviet Russia through the mobility of so-called knowledge workers, the transnational character of ecology as well as economics, and recognition of institutional limits. Among the principal obstacles to a genuine understanding of a shrinking world's altered circumstances, Drucker contends, are the very successes of the past—e.g., the welfare and fiscal states. In like vein, he warns that yesteryear's shopworn commitments and slogans (which still dominate public discourse) tend to restrict the global village's vision and impede its forward progress. As one consequence, the author concludes, an important responsibility of government will be to set the standards for the powerful and autonomous institutions on which a pluralist society's well-being depends; in his opinion, government should also curb the potential of small minorities (whether NRA members in the US or rice growers in Japan) for tyranny. Judgment calls and analyses that are (for a welcome change) trenchant, not trendy. Read full book review >
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Released: Oct. 1, 1986

Another 37 pieces of Drucker's lively mind. The wide-ranging collection covers the period from 1982 through mid-1986 in four main sections: Economics; People; Management; and The Organization. Among other accomplishments, Drucker contrives to give a fresh spin to some comparatively banal themes, e.g., that change affords opportunity and the global economy represents a primary engine of domestic growth. To illustrate, he warns against beggar-thy-neighbor policies; in assessing America's deficit-ridden trade account, though, he points out that Washington could effectively expropriate reluctant importers like Japan simply by devaluing the dollar. Expressing little faith in government's capacity to experiment, Drucker looks to business management for needed social innovation; enterprising executives, he observes, can take credit for the research lab, farm agents, the Eurodollar, commercial paper, and other breakthroughs. In the meantime, well-educated and ambitious baby boomers have created a sort of gridlock in labor markets. The situation augurs well for entrepreneurship in the US, Drucker concludes. But, he cautions, companies that wish to retain the best and brightest young employees will have to satisfy their generally great expectations in creative ways. The author also casts a cold eye on hostile takeovers, the breakup of Ma Bell, US antitrust policy, and the future of trade unions. Throughout, Drucker displays a refreshingly deft touch. At the outset of an essay evaluating the effect of managerial nest-feathering, for example, he notes: "Executive compensation played Banquo's ghost in the 1984 labor negotiations." An agreeable blend of ad-rem commentary and prescriptive counsel, with durable appeal for a broad readership. Read full book review >
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Released: June 5, 1985

At a guess, Drucker's latest contribution to management literature will command appreciably less than half the attention being lavished on A Passion for Excellence (422). His substantive, systematic commentary is nonetheless superior to the trendier entry on both a comparative and stand-alone basis. Among other accomplishments, Drucker puts the evolution of executive arts in an accessible socioeconomic perspective. The worldwide panic of 1873, he observes, ended a century of laissez-faire and led to the modern welfare state, which 100 years later "had run its course," In the turbulent interim, he reports, the US work force has expanded by roughly 40 million. He attributes the net gain in jobs—achieved despite oil shocks, double-digit inflation, a few serious recessions, and a sharp contraction in smokestack industries' payrolls—to the innovative activities of entrepreneurs. In Drucker's book, true entrepreneurs (who can be found in the public and as private sectors) are a less than venturesome lot; although demonstrably intrepid, they seek to minimize risk in their efforts to adapt to and exploit change. Entrepreneurship, he argues persuasively, has more to do with behavior than personality. Its most productive manifestation is purposeful innovation—broadly defined as enchancement of "the wealth-producing potential of already existing resources." While Drucker does not altogether dismiss bioengineering or solid-state electronics, he points out that employment opportunities have been created mainly by low-tech firms that did not exist 20 years ago—restaurant chains, financial-services organizations, health-care concerns, et al. The next catalogues a wealth of commercial/institutional applications of the management principles Drucker is bent on advancing. He notes, for example, that notwithstanding the availability of conclusive demographic data, only a few universities were prepared for the boom-and-bust enrollment cycle that followed the decade-long surge in the domestic birth rate after WW II. Along similar lines, the author faults seemingly successful corporate pioneers that fail to protect market positions with regular price cuts. The Drucker agenda also features tax-reform and related public-policy proposals designed to ensure innovative entrepreneurs an operating environment conducive to continued achievement. In brief, then, a provocative prescriptive guide that takes the measure of the responsibilities of both management and society in a fast-changing marketplace. Read full book review >
THE TEMPTATION TO DO GOOD by Peter F. Drucker
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Released: May 1, 1984

Drucker's first novel, The Last of All Possible Worlds (1982), was stately, static, but rich and intriguing too. This follow-up is a much slighter, clumsier effort: little more than an illustrated debate on the role of a Catholic university—along with a dubious sermonette about what can happen when someone gives in to "the temptation to do good." Father Heinz Zimmerman, president of St. Jerome U., is a longtime believer in the anti-parochial upgrading of Catholic education, proud of transforming St. Jerome into a top-Hight school that's only incidentally Catholic. Then, however, an incompetent faculty member is denied tenure; the teacher's wife lashes out at Father Heinz, arguing that her husband was dismissed because "he is a true Christian in a university that calls itself Catholic but is dominated by heretics and Jews, and unbelievers." Furthermore, the faculty-wife then accuses Father Heinz of immoral behavior with his devoted secretary (a handsome widow)—a false accusation which leads to rumors, tainted reputations, moral dilemmas for Father H. And even more of a brouhaha erupts when do-gooder Father Heinz, pitying the dismissed teacher, recommends him for a low-level job elsewhere: the anti-secular forces in the St. Jerome's faculty arise in fury about this meddling in departmental affairs by a priest-administrator. The upshot? Father Heinz becomes broody and disillusioned—unsure about the anti-parochial premise, doubting his own motives. Wanting to avoid escalating controversy, the St. Jerome's powers-that-be arrange for Father Heinz to be lured away to an attractive job in state government. And a promising young priest-administrator decides, after witnessing this teapot-tempest, to be a parish priest: "If I don't make it as a pastor, I'd rather go in as an executive with my father" in the supermarket biz. Some of these matters—the Catholic university debate, the priest/administrator role—are potentially interesting, well-suited to an essay. Here, however, in stiff morality-play form (deadly dialogues and internal monologues), the material is dull, occasionally confusing—and only for those with a passionate involvement in the specific issues here. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1982

Stately, low-key fiction from the well-known management guru: loosely connected vignettes (Drucker compares them to the movements of a quartet) from the lives of four distinguished Europeans who reach their later years around the turn-of-the-century. First there's Prince Sobieski, Austria's ambassador to England in 1906, who has just received a letter in which natural daughter Henrietta (the only person he really loves) begs the Prince to aid her husband's military career. The Prince can't disappoint her—but he can't behave unethically either. So before he comes to a compromise solution, he must review his life: mistresses; young cousin/wife Margit, who never minded the Prince's philandering (she even set him up with her dearest friend); the acquisition of great paintings; the building of a financial empire (thanks partly to training from the family estate's Jewish manager); and his avuncular concern over Margit's latest affair. Then the focus shifts to British mega-banker McGregor Hinton, who also faces an ethical crisis and reviews his life: his poor beginnings; his Drucker-esque education in math/philosophy; his noble secret marriage to a mulatto prostitute after she bore his deformed child (she's now dying of cancer); his brushes with aristocracy, J. P. Morgan, and Sandor Ferenczi (they discuss the Oedipus Complex); his London/Vienna banking coup and "entrepreneurial" vision; and, now, his decision to resign and tackle the 18th-century mathematicians. Next: Austrian Jewish banker Julius von Mosenthal, who's planning a major restructuring of the Bank of London & Austria; while brooding on the upcoming meeting with partners Hinton and Sobieski, he recalls his long-ago cockney mistress Shells, planning a reunion. (The resignation plans of Hinton and Sobieski will coincide perfectly with Julius' patriotic scheme.) And, finally, to balance all that finance with some culture, there's the life of Baroness Rafaela Wald-Reifnitz—descended from the purest Sephardic Jews, painted by two great artists, devoted to music, in love (despite rough times along the way) with problematic husband Arthur. Drueker doesn't really succeed in building a satisfactory chamber-piece from these separate, somewhat repetitious life-studies; the final section, in fact, doesn't work at all as a coda. And the interior-monologue style here becomes awfully dry and stilted, with page after page of "he mused" and "he thought" and "he continued to himself." Still: these are elegant people elegantly pondering diplomacy, etiquette, finance, adultery, anti-Semitism, history, old age, and the approaching Great War—and readers partial to a sedate, old-world sensibility will be richly rewarded. Read full book review >
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Released: April 29, 1981

Diverse essays, 1972-80, looking as usual chiefly to the future—a natural outlook for the nation's top business-management advisor and goad. Drucker, indeed, is seldom boring and seldom wholly wrong just because he's challenging "generally accepted assumptions"—which are, in the nature of things, always partially erroneous. (And almost invariably out-of-date.) The title essay is Drucker's most encompassing refutation/prognostication. Reviewing the successive schools of economic thinking (Mercantilism to Keynesianism), he characterizes the "world view" of each as either macro- or micro-economic, either supply- or demand-focused. This construct not only makes monetarist Milton Friedman a Keynesian (his economics is macro-economics—and demand-focused, contingent on money and credit), it also shifts attention—in Drucker's words—from the failure of "this or that theory" to the failure of the Keynesian assumption that productivity, unattended, would continue to slowly increase. Add the decline in capital-formation (contra to Keynesian theory), and Drucker is ready to stipulate what the Next Economics will be: micro-economic and based on supply. But the new micro-economics will concentrate, not on profit-maximization, but on productivity and capital-formation—making possible the integration, for the first time, of micro-economics and macro-economics, and of "the real economy of commodities and work and the symbol economy of money and credit." Some of the implications may be previewed in the succeeding pieces, which mostly address specific audiences and specific issues: environmentalism (or, how to identify justifiable risks—and non-justifiable risks), technology (or, how to be technologically innovative—and technologically responsible). One interesting piece deals with multinationals and developing countries. "Neglect and indifference," writes Drucker, "rather than 'exploitation,' is the justified grievance of the developing countries"; and he suggests ways to give Third-World affiliates more standing in the corporate structure. Another reassesses—as totally misrepresented—the prophet of "scientific management," Frederick Taylor. Two concluding pieces focus on Japan: one, a corrective that overcompensates, is devoted to demonstrating that Japan is not a monolith (true, but it's a lot more homogeneous than any other major nation); the second attempts, unimpressively, to view Japan through Japanese art. But even the narrowest of the pieces on management- and work-related issues—corporate boards, retirement, public-service programs—have something eye-opening to say. Read full book review >
MANAGING IN TURBULENT TIMES by Peter F. Drucker
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Released: April 30, 1980

Some directives for business and institutional managers, some global-think for the Executive Board. As of 1980, Drucker sees 25 years of predictable economic growth at an end, and new strategies called for. "Managing in turbulent times must begin with the adjustment of the enterprise's figures to inflation"; financial strength must be put before earnings; the decline of productivities (capital, time, knowledge, physical resources) must be reversed. The costs of staying in business are real costs, Drucker reasonably concludes, regardless of "record profits." Looking ahead (with some retrospective pats on the back), he broadens his scope. "Major technological changes" will allow businesses to be larger or smaller—and, properly, either leaders in a large market or specialists "preempting a small ecological niche" (for the untenability of an in-between position, witness Chrysler). But the great "sea-change" that Drucker anticipates is the result of population dynamics—a prospective labor shortage in the developed world coupled with an incipient labor surplus in the developing world. His answer is universal "production sharing": concentrating labor-intensive stages of production in the developing world. The objections to this trend—which range from the shrinkage of entry-level blue-collar jobs in the U.S. (see Levison, in the 3/1 issue) to the upping of underemployment in developing nations (see Hewlett, below)—have no place in Drucker's business-oriented picture. (He can't, for instance, see that Youngstown, Ohio's, redundant steel-workers have a problem: three years after the closing of their big mill, most of them were working—even if not for as much money, "and a good many part time.") But for his constituency, he's a reliable guide also to other trends—notably, growing economic intergration vis-Ã -vis growing political fragmentation and the smart business response (world-oriented management, a low profile, little local investment). And anyone puzzled by last year's Nobel prizes in economics will learn that Pittsburgh's Herbert Simon won his for showing that managers try to find minimum acceptable solutions—solutions that neither optimize nor maximize results, but "satisfice." So much, too, for Drucker's latest go at managing the world from a swivel chair: it satisfices. Read full book review >
ADVENTURES OF A BYSTANDER by Peter F. Drucker
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Released: Feb. 28, 1979

It comes as a surprise to learn that Peter Drucker, the guru of business management, grew up among the intelligentsia of 1920s Vienna, where Freud's doings were discussed at the dinner table, social responsibility was de rigueur, and business was beneath notice. But Drucker decided early, he relates, to march to no common beat: on his fourteenth birthday he handed over the Young Socialist flag—that it was such an honor to carry—and headed home, "lonely" but "light-hearted." Still, one may conclude, reading about the memorable persons he came to know, that he was not so much a nonconformist as a natural-born observer, sizer-upper, and stasher-away. One, moreover, with a purpose: "to learn from success." So his arch, affectionate tribute to Miss Elsa and Miss Sophie, the fourth-grade mentors who "failed to teach me what both they and I knew I needed to learn" (how to write a clear hand and how to use simple tools) turns into an appreciation of Miss Elsa's Draconian workbooks and stepped goals, and Miss Sophie's veneration for craftsmanship. The two sisters—and the young, undoctrinaire Artur Schnabel (play what you hear)—also turned him into a lifelong "teacher-watcher," on the lookout for what worked. Some of his models held views antithetical to his, like the five Polanyis, all committed to finding a society that could provide "economic growth and stability, freedom and equality"; and one of these utopian socialists, Karl Polanyi, served as the sounding board, in 1940, for Drucker's theory of a coming "society of organizations," the basis of his interest in institutional management. Other stellar vignettes—of Fritz Kraemer, "the Man Who Invented Kissinger"; of English arch-dissenter Noel Brailsford—confirm Drucker's attraction to the true-believer, the throwback, the eccentric; and if his American exemplars are less flamboyant or bizarre (especially in their sexual pursuits), they still include such oddball achievers as Henry Luce and John L. Lewis, Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan. Drucker also gets off some unorthodox comments on American social institutions (he's big, for instance, on the small college) without letting his conservative bias make him less than stimulating and entertaining. Read full book review >
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Released: June 16, 1976

According to Peter Drucker, the last quarter century has witnessed an unrecorded economic gyration toward nothing short of a unique and salutary American brand of socialism—the ultimate ownership of the nation's business by the nation's workers, as beneficiaries of pension trusts. The over-65 savant of management-cum-economic theory takes on a subject for which he is distinctly suited, and for the first time a cogent analysis of the probable impact of the American pension system is constructed for the generalist. The Dickensian clerk, the assembly-line worker, you, I, and the rest of the proletariat have become men and women, not of property, but of expectations. The employees of the country are becoming the new owners (if not the managers) of our major productive resources and the consequences, as well as the fact, ought to be examined. Horrible examples of pension fund mismangement and misinformation abound. New York City's unfunded pension debt, approaching $10 billion, stalks the Big Apple like the ghost of King Kong. The newly promoted employee stock ownership plan, the Kelso plan—whereby a struggling firm may sell its own stock to the pension trust established for the benefit of its workers—is treated with scorn. (On the other hand the Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association, serving the author's academic community, is presented as the most ingenious and intelligent of pension funds.) Drucker dismisses the often cited excessive concentration of power in massive pension trusts as a "pure red herring." He's after bigger philosophical fish. Among them is the significance of an ever increasing cadre of pensioners, members of a welfare society not (as citizens) of a welfare state. Discussion of the subject is timely and though the book is filled with polemic, it may be the spark that ignites debate. Read full book review >
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Released: Feb. 6, 1973

A shop manual for business executives, a declaration of the rights and duties of workers and management, a rehash of Drucker's previous work, a rundown on the latest in management thinking — there's some of each in these 819 easy-to-read pages by an expert popularizer of such subjects. As industrialism passes from the business society to the pluralist institutional society, Drucker claims the tasks of management are changing. Profits are still absolutely essential, but now that the post-World War II "management mystique" is gone, the manager must see himself as "a craftsman" and tackle such issues as quality of life, worker motivation, and corporate social responsibility. What makes a manager and what makes top management ("People have indeed a right to expect a serious and competent superior") and what makes optimal organization ("The right answer is whatever structure enables people to perform and contribute") are referenced by examining the success stories of Sears, Roebuck; Marks & Spencer; IBM; a German firm and the Japanese personnel management system. Middle management must be supervised by a tight, independent "executive secretariat" of directors, who need to know how to keep the company the "right size" and beware the pitfalls of multinationalism. At the same time, Drucker recommends "participatory democracy" over "Stalinism" within the organization. Like his much admired variety store, in this vast display the gadgets are mixed with the "real buys." And "value" largely depends on what the customer is looking for. Read full book review >
MEN, IDEAS, AND POLITICS by Peter F. Drucker
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Released: July 28, 1971

Though it offers gleanings for students of economic theory and business, on balance this assortment of essays lacks weight as well as integration. Drucker's introduction tries to frost over the latter defect by proclaiming a commitment to "political ecology," meaning that everything human is related to the whole, but this only accentuates the limits of the thirteen articles themselves. First published in journals like Harper's and The Public Interest from the late '40's to 1970, they deal with Calhoun, Henry Ford, the art of being an effective president, the obsolescence of traditional American political alignments, and the American future — in 1966 Drucker perceives that "foreign affairs are likely to be one of the political storm centers" (but nowhere in the collection is there a forthright comment on Vietnam). When he delves into philosophical matters, he is usually shallow and often inaccurate, as in a piece on Kierkegaard, and he is equally so when anatomizing the younger generation: in 1966 he thinks Sartrean existentialism is big on campus and perceives a shift from the "outer-directed" students of the '50's to "inner-direction," with an embarrassing misuse of the terms. All these efforts could have been left in the files with little loss: the economic essays have more interest, especially a perceptive 1946 article on Keynes' aims and inconsistencies, two pieces on Japanese management, remarks on multinational corporations, and a 1970 essay which, in discussing various kinds of mergers, points out the myths of self-financing corporations and managerial rule. Drucker, a business school professor, has written several books, including The Concept of the Corporation (1964) and Technology, Management and Society (1970). Read full book review >
TECHNOLOGY, MANAGEMENT, AND SOCIETY by Peter F. Drucker
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Released: May 6, 1970

Drucker has assembled twelve essays from his substantial backlog of conference papers and magazine articles of the past dozen years to convey the shape and substance of his thought on "how Man works." The tie that binds the pieces is a sustaining vision of the interrelationship of "material civilization" and "culture": man's tools and materials, his institutions and organizations, the way he works and makes his living are all part and parcel of man's personality, expressions of "his basic ideals, his dreams, his aspirations, and his values." The three longest essays discuss the manager and his function in this broad social context. Three other essays focus more narrowly upon management's basic approaches and techniques. The remaining pieces deal with technology over the centuries, its impact on man and the quality of life. Drucker's stance has been characterized as conservative optimism: he's a true believer in the free-enterprise system and its capacity for innovation, growth, and expansion. Profit motive and social conscience are an unbeatable combination; collectivism is only an undesirable necessity for underdeveloped nations with too little business talent to go around. Neatly argued, with points enumerated, expanded, illustrated, and tucked away, this is an accessible sampling of Drucker's insights on technological trends, their management, and their social implications. Read full book review >
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Released: Jan. 29, 1968

The humanist view of the world which always held to some fundamental truth about experience, whether objective or subjective, has for a long while now been on the defensive. Thus even Auden's popular "age of anxiety" seems too personal or existential a description of the times, and perhaps we must make way for a new catchall, "the age of discontinuity," for instance, no doubt especially winning because of its echo of Heisenberg, indeterminacy, scientific experimentation, and so forth. In his latest work, Drucker, an old hand at futurology, neatly mixing worrisome statistics, problematic forecasts, and journalistic uplift, discusses the forthcoming impact of the knowledge industries, "world economy," pluralist organizations, and "the knowledge society"—what he considers to be, in short, the major trouble spots and/or fruitful issues of discontinuity. His main contention, simply, is that the fifty years before World War I produced the old technology, on which we have been coasting, and that we are now entering a new technological phase, the computer being its first manifestation, with no clear developmental line in sight, but lots of leaps and gaps and conflicting stages of economic growth. Thus there is the great problem of the rich and poor nations (how to avert racial war and bring the East up to Western standards): the McLuhan idea of "global village" and electronic media resulting, hopefully, in one market; and the modes of organization (not big government) and knowledge best suited to the new challenges. Drucker is always interesting, valuable and provocative in his rather Business Week way, but what he points to (hails?) is really a managerial technocracy. Read full book review >
MANAGING FOR RESULTS by Peter F. Drucker
NONFICTION
Released: April 22, 1964

"The business of America," in the unforgettable words of our 30th President, "is business." Mr. Drucker has a penchant for comparable profundities. This is still another of his "what to do" books and for it he claims the distinction of being "the first attempt at an organized presentation of the economic tasks of the business executive." It also has a practical rather than theoretical thesis: "Economic performance... is the specific function and contribution of business enterprise, and the reason for its existence." Getting down to cases and drawing from his experience as a consultant, he explains how to understand "Business Realities" — how to "Focus on Opportunity" — and what is required of a successful "Program for Performance." You still don't know "what to do"? Well, get out there and manage! Bring "order out of chaos." Help society to "truly accept that business is a rational pursuit." And, yes, while you're at it — make some money. Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: Feb. 4, 1958

The author of The New Society, America's Next Twenty Years and several other books on modern man in the industrial state, treats here of what he calls this "Post Modern Age" which is distinguished from the "Modern" world since the 17th century by new scientific and philosophical emphases, by the new challenges presented by the "Educated Society" and by the new emphasis on the spiritual reality of human existence. Basically Drucker is a conservative optimist. He does not believe, of course, in the false goal of "progress" for the sake of more progress. His word is "innovation" which he defines as "purposeful change". He believes that the decline of the liberal state as it arose in the 18th century, the new age of pluralism, the social structures which have resulted from the new organizing capacity have given modern man a new kind of freedom — in which he is a more responsible being. His conclusions: that the traditional values of Western civilization are still sound; that they can apply with force equal to Western technology in the East; that the new universe will be one of pattern, purpose; that responsibility, not success is the measure of the man. Written with provocative force. Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: May 10, 1950

A provocative, interesting book — a non-Utopian, workable politi-economic model for our present-day industrial society which examines economic, governmental and social aspects of industrial enterprise and presents the author's theories of the desired threefold function of enterprise. Mass production, which has divorced the worker from production and the family unit from society, requires a new industrial society, so Mr. Drucker believes, and he here proposes realignment in the thinking and power of management, labor and the plant community itself. He first considers the distinguishing characteristics of industrial enterprise, its anatomy and laws of profitability and higher output, and then describes labor's rejection of these laws. Part III deals with the conflict of labor and management, the illegitimacy of management as government, the union leaders' dilemma, and the problem of split allegiances. Sections four and five treat the function of the plant community, the need of the worker for status in the industrial order, and the management function, how and why and wherein it has failed. The final sections offer the author's solutions and principles of industrial order:- labor should be considered as a capital resource, entitled to a predictability of income and employment, with a stake in profits. For management he recommends decentralization and federalism. For the plant community, self government. And for labor unions, the responsibilities of citizenship. With most of the recommendations the author has practical, sound plans for action, and he analyzes each problem with clear, incisive commonsense. A text that bears out Drucker's proved clarity of thinking in previous methods of presentation of ideas by charts and diagrams. Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: April 24, 1939

A text booky title which will make the general reading public gun-shy. Too bad, since this is one of the best presentations of the basic causes and meaning of Fascism. Drucker dismisses the popular fallacies that Fascism was created through propaganda, force, etc., and gets down to bed rock causes, the despair of the masses when the old spiritual and social order collapsed, when both Marxist and capitalistic economy failed, when war or fear of war and unemployment became rampant. He shows up the ideology of fascism, as purely negative and destructive. He analyzes economy under fascism; anti-Semitism as a means of attacking the bourgeois class and facilitating fascism thereby; Germany's relations to Russia (he makes a German-Russian entente a near actuality, socially, ideologically, economically). To offset Fascism he offers a new creed, order based on freedom, economic man. He claims that people cling to Fascism only because the collapse of Marxism, socialism and of capitalism left them no other issue. Not light reading, but constructive, challenging, worth while. Read full book review >
NONFICTION

Drucker's bold look-ahead proceeds from many of the economic and engineering facts of life in present-day America. The grossest fact is babies- millions of them. The vast population increase will not for a time flood the labor market- but meantime the needs of these children will cause economic hardship to parents. Only through expanding productivity will the financial needs of these families be met- and this means that new types of "innovation" in social and industrial life must be found. The colleges will be under an immense stress, and Drucker is obviously interested in the problems of higher education and writes knowingly about them. The sweeping use of automation is not apt to reduce the labor need (though it will cause drastic shifts from one industry to another) nor will it lower the value of the employee. It will however further emphasize the role of higher education, and it will promote the smaller businesses which can more readily handle specialized operations that are too limited to warrant automation. The future will see America becoming a have not nation; this is the grimmest fact to be faced. Iron, oil, and countless other vital raw materials no longer are inexhaustible. America must then compete for them at the cost of international goodwill. Drucker concedes nothing to the intervention in the American economy of new sources of energy or new synthetic materials. But on this stand, he is persuasive and stimulating, and writes with clarity and force. Read full book review >
NONFICTION

Peter Drucker is announced here as "the first among the leading management thinkers of our time, to have addressed himself to the executive role in the age of the computer." While he is cognizant of man and machine (man is perceptual, the machine logical and limited), most of his book adheres to orthodox concerns of the executive, who is expected "to get the right things done." "Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results," he says, and goes on to tick off five elements of such effectiveness: (1) know where your time goes;(2) focus on outward contribution; (3) build on strength; (4) concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results; (5) make effective decisions. He tells how to accomplish in these areas, what will be gained; how to deal with subordinates and superiors, prune "investments in managerial ego," etc. He considers his advice valid for executives of all kinds, corporate to collegiate; and closes with the assurance and admonition that all this can and must be learned. Effective execution. Read full book review >