MANAGING FOR THE FUTURE
The 1990s and Beyond
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.