Peter Drucker: Wikis


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Peter Ferdinand Drucker
Born November 19, 1909 (1909-11-19)
Kaasgraben, Vienna, Austria
Died November 11, 2005 (2005-11-12)
Claremont, California, USA
Occupation Writer, Professor, Management Consultant

Peter Ferdinand Drucker (November 19, 1909 – November 11, 2005) was a writer, management consultant, and self-described “social ecologist.”[1] His books and scholarly and popular articles explored how humans are organized across the business, government and the nonprofit sectors of society.[2] His writings have predicted many of the major developments of the late twentieth century, including privatization and decentralization; the rise of Japan to economic world power; the decisive importance of marketing; and the emergence of the information society with its necessity of lifelong learning.[3] In 1959, Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker" and later in his life considered knowledge work productivity to be the next frontier of management.[4]


Personal life and roots of his philosophy

The son of a high-level civil servant in Austria-Hungary – his mother Caroline Bondi had studied medicine and his father Adolf Drucker was a lawyer – Drucker was born in Vienna, the capital of Austria, in a small village named Kaasgraben (now part of the 19th district of Vienna, Döbling). He grew up in a home where intellectuals, high government officials, and scientists would meet to discuss new ideas.[5] After graduating from Döbling Gymnasium, Drucker found few opportunities for employment in post-Habsburg Vienna, so he moved to Hamburg, Germany, first working as an apprentice at an established cotton trading company, then as a journalist, writing for Der Österreichische Volkswirt (The Austrian Economist). Drucker then moved to Frankfurt, where he took a job at the Daily Frankfurter General-Anzeiger. While in Frankfurt, he also earned a doctorate in international law and public law from the University of Frankfurt in 1931. Among his early influences was the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, a friend of his father’s, who impressed upon Drucker the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship.[6] Drucker was also influenced, in a much different way, by John Maynard Keynes, whom he heard lecture in 1934 in Cambridge. “I suddenly realized that Keynes and all the brilliant economic students in the room were interested in the behavior of commodities,” Drucker wrote, “while I was interested in the behavior of people.”[7]

Over the next 70 years, Drucker’s writings would be marked by a focus on relationships among human beings, as opposed to the crunching of numbers. His books were filled with lessons on how organizations can bring out the best in people, and how workers can find a sense of community and dignity in a modern society organized around large institutions.[8]

As a young writer, Drucker wrote two pieces — one on the conservative German philosopher Friedrich Julius Stahl and another called “The Jewish Question in Germany” — that were burned and banned by the Nazis.[3] In 1933, Drucker left Germany for England. In London, he worked for an insurance company, then as the chief economist at a private bank. He also reconnected with Doris Schmitz, an acquaintance from the University of Frankfurt. They married in 1934. (His wedding certificate lists his name as Peter Georg Drucker.[9]) The couple permanently relocated to the United States, where he became a university professor as well as a free-lance writer and business consultant. (Drucker disliked the term “guru,” though it was often applied to him; “I have been saying for many years,” Drucker once remarked, “that we are using the word ‘guru’ only because ‘charlatan’ is too long to fit into a headline.”)[10]

In 1943, Drucker became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He taught at Bennington College from 1942-1949, then at New York University as a Professor of Management from 1950 to 1971. Drucker came to California in 1971, where he developed one of the country's first executive MBA programs for working professionals at Claremont Graduate University (then known as Claremont Graduate School). From 1971 to his death he was the Clarke Professor of Social Science and Management at Claremont Graduate University. The university's management school was named the "Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management" (later known as the "Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management") in his honor in 1987. He taught his last class at the school in 2002 at age 92.


His career as a business thinker took off in 1942, when his initial writings on politics and society won him access to the internal workings of General Motors (GM), one of the largest companies in the world at that time. His experiences in Europe had left him fascinated with the problem of authority. He shared his fascination with Donaldson Brown, the mastermind behind the administrative controls at GM. In 1943 Brown invited him in to conduct what might be called a "political audit": a two-year social-scientific analysis of the corporation. Drucker attended every board meeting, interviewed employees, and analyzed production and decision-making processes.

The resulting book, Concept of the Corporation, popularized GM's multidivisional structure and led to numerous articles, consulting engagements, and additional books. GM, however, was hardly thrilled with the final product. Drucker had suggested that the auto giant might want to reexamine a host of long-standing policies on customer relations, dealer relations, employee relations and more. Inside the corporation, Drucker’s counsel was viewed as hypercritical. GM's revered chairman, Alfred Sloan, was so upset about the book that he “simply treated it as if it did not exist,” Drucker later recalled, “never mentioning it and never allowing it to be mentioned in his presence.”[11]

Drucker taught that management is “a liberal art,” and he infused his management advice with interdisciplinary lessons from history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, culture and religion.[12] He also believed strongly that all institutions, including those in the private sector, have a responsibility to the whole of society. “The fact is,” Drucker wrote in his 1973 Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, “that in modern society there is no other leadership group but managers. If the managers of our major institutions, and especially of business, do not take responsibility for the common good, no one else can or will.”[13]

Drucker was interested in the growing effect of people who worked with their minds rather than their hands. He was intrigued by employees who knew more about certain subjects than their bosses or colleagues and yet had to cooperate with others in a large organization. Rather than simply glorify the phenomenon as the epitome of human progress, Drucker analyzed it and explained how it challenged the common thinking about how organizations should be run.

His approach worked well in the increasingly mature business world of the second half of the twentieth century. By that time, large corporations had developed the basic manufacturing efficiencies and managerial hierarchies of mass production. Executives thought they knew how to run companies, and Drucker took it upon himself to poke holes in their beliefs, lest organizations become stale. But he did so in a sympathetic way. He assumed that his readers were intelligent, rational, hardworking people of good will. If their organizations struggled, he believed it was usually because of outdated ideas, a narrow conception of problems, or internal misunderstandings.

During his long consulting career, Drucker worked with many major corporations, including General Electric, Coca-Cola, Citicorp, IBM, and Intel. He consulted with notable business leaders such as GE’s Jack Welch; Procter & Gamble’s A.G. Lafley; Intel’s Andy Grove; Edward Jones’ John Bachmann; Shoichiro Toyoda, the honorary chairman of Toyota Motor Corp.; and Masatoshi Ito, the honorary chairman of the Ito-Yokado Group, the second largest retailing organization in the world.[14] Although he helped many corporate executives succeed, he was appalled when the level of Fortune 500 CEO pay in America ballooned to hundreds of times that of the average worker. He argued in a 1984 essay that CEO compensation should be no more than 20 times what the rank and file make — especially at companies where thousands of employees are being laid off. “This is morally and socially unforgivable,” Drucker wrote, “and we will pay a heavy price for it.”[3]

Drucker served as a consultant for various government agencies in the United States, Canada and Japan. He worked with various nonprofit organizations to help them become successful, often consulting pro bono. Among the many social-sector groups he advised were the Salvation Army, the Girl Scouts of the USA, C.A.R.E., the American Red Cross, and the Navajo Indian Tribal Council.[15]

In fact, Drucker anticipated the rise of the social sector in America, maintaining that it was through volunteering in nonprofits that people would find the kind of fulfillment that he originally thought would be provided through their place of work, but that had proven elusive in that arena. “Citizenship in and through the social sector is not a panacea for the ills of post-capitalist society and post-capitalist polity, but it may be a prerequisite for tackling these ills,” Drucker wrote. “It restores the civic responsibility that is the mark of citizenship, and the civic pride that is the mark of community.”[16]


Drucker's 39 books have been translated into more than thirty languages. Two are novels, one an autobiography. He is the co-author of a book on Japanese painting, and made eight series of educational films on management topics. He also penned a regular column in the Wall Street Journal for 20 years and contributed frequently to the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Economist. He continued to act as a consultant to businesses and non-profit organizations well into his nineties. Drucker died November 11, 2005 in Claremont, California of natural causes at 95.

Basic ideas

Several ideas run through most of Drucker's writings:

  • Decentralization and simplification. Drucker discounted the command and control model and asserted that companies work best when they are decentralized. According to Drucker, corporations tend to produce too many products, hire employees they don't need (when a better solution would be outsourcing), and expand into economic sectors that they should avoid.
  • A profound skepticism of macroeconomic theory. Drucker contended that economists of all schools fail to explain significant aspects of modern economies.
  • Respect of the worker. Drucker believed that employees are assets and not liabilities. He taught that knowledge workers are the essential ingredients of the modern economy. Central to this philosophy is the view that people are an organization's most valuable resource and that a manager's job is to prepare and free people to perform. [17]
  • A belief in what he called "the sickness of government." Drucker made nonpartisan claims that government is often unable or unwilling to provide new services that people need or want, though he believed that this condition is not inherent to the form of government. The chapter "The Sickness of Government" in his book The Age of Discontinuity formed the basis of the New Public Management, a theory of public administration that dominated the discipline in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • The need for "planned abandonment". Businesses and governments have a natural human tendency to cling to "yesterday's successes" rather than seeing when they are no longer useful.
  • A belief that taking action without thinking is the cause of every failure.[18]
  • The need for community. Early in his career, Drucker predicted the "end of economic man" and advocated the creation of a "plant community" where individuals' social needs could be met. He later acknowledged that the plant community never materialized, and by the 1980s, suggested that volunteering in the nonprofit sector was the key to fostering a healthy society where people found a sense of belonging and civic pride.
  • The need to manage business by balancing a variety of needs and goals, rather than subordinating an institution to a single value.[19][20] This concept of management by objectives forms the keynote of his 1954 landmark The Practice of Management.[21]
  • A company's primary responsibility is to serve its customers. Profit is not the primary goal, but rather an essential condition for the company's continued existence.[22]
  • An organization should have a proper way of executing all its business processes.
  • A belief in the notion that great companies could stand among humankind's noblest inventions.[23]

Awards and honors

Drucker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President George W. Bush on July 9, 2002[1]. He also received honors from the governments of Japan and Austria. He was the Honorary Chairman of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, now the Leader to Leader Institute, from 1990 through 2002. In 1969 he was awarded New York University’s highest honor, the NYU Presidential Citation. Harvard Business Review honored Drucker in the spring of 2005 with his seventh McKinsey Award for his article, "What Makes an Effective Executive", the most awarded to one person.[24] Drucker was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1996. Additionally he holds 25 honorary doctorates from American, Belgian, Czech, English, Spanish and Swiss Universities. In Claremont, California, Eleventh Street between College Avenue and Dartmouth Avenue was renamed "Drucker Way" in October of 2009 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Drucker's birth[25]


The Wall Street Journal researched several of his lectures in 1987 and reported that he was sometimes loose with the facts. Drucker was off the mark, for example, when he told an audience that English was the official language for all employees at Japan’s Mitsui trading company. (Drucker’s defense: “I use anecdotes to make a point, not to write history.”) And while he was known for his prescience, he wasn’t always correct in his forecasts. He anticipated, for instance, that the nation’s financial center would shift from New York to Washington.[26]

Others maintain that one of Drucker’s core concepts—“management by objectives”—is flawed and has never really been proven to work effectively. Specifically, critics say that the system is difficult to implement, and that companies often wind up overemphasizing control, as opposed to fostering creativity, to meet their goals.[27]

List of publications

  • Friedrich Julius Stahl: konservative Staatslehre und geschichtliche Entwicklung (1932)
  • The End of Economic Man: The Origins of Totalitarianism (1939) Google Booksearch Preview
  • The Future of Industrial Man (1942)
  • Concept of the Corporation (1945) (A study of General Motors)
  • The New Society (1950)
  • The Practice of Management (1954)
  • America's Next 20 Years (1957)
  • Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • Power and Democracy in America (1961)
  • Managing for Results: Economic Tasks and Risk-Taking Decisions (1964)
  • The Effective Executive (1967)
  • The Age of Discontinuity (1968)
  • Technology, Management and Society (1970)
  • Men, Ideas and Politics (1971)
  • Management: Tasks, Responsibilities and Practices (1973)
  • The Unseen Revolution: How Pension Fund Socialism Came to America (1976)
  • An Introductory View of Management (1977)
  • Adventures of a Bystander (1979) (Autobiography)
  • Song of the Brush: Japanese Paintings from the Sanso Collection (1979)
  • Managing in Turbulent Times (1980)
  • Toward the Next Economics and Other Essays (1981)
  • The Changing World of the Executive (1982)
  • The Last of All Possible Worlds (1982)
  • The Temptation to Do Good (1984)
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles (1985)
  • The Discipline of Innovation, Harvard Business Review, 1985
  • The Frontiers of Management (1986)
  • The New Realities (1989)
  • Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Practices and Principles (1990)
  • Managing for the Future: The 1990s and Beyond (1992)
  • The Post-Capitalist Society (1993)
  • The Ecological Vision: Reflections on the American Condition (1993)
  • The Theory of the Business, Harvard Business Review, September-October 1994
  • Managing in a Time of Great Change (1995)
  • Drucker on Asia: A Dialogue Between Peter Drucker and Isao Nakauchi (1997)
  • Peter Drucker on the Profession of Management (1998)
  • Management Challenges for the 21st century (1999)
  • Managing Oneself, Harvard Business Review, March-April 1999
  • The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management (2001)
  • Leading in a Time of Change: What it Will Take to Lead Tomorrow (2001; with Peter Senge)
  • The Effective Executive Revised (2002)
  • They're Not Employees, They're People, Harvard Business Review, February 2002
  • Managing in the Next Society (2002)
  • A Functioning Society (2003)
  • The Daily Drucker: 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done (2004)
  • What Makes An Effective Executive, Harvard Business Review, June 2004.
  • The Effective Executive in Action (2005)
  • Classic Drucker (2006)


  • "In fact, that management has a need for advanced education – as well as for systematic manager development – means only that management today has become an institution of our society."[28]
  • "The best way to predict the future is to create it."
  • "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."
  • "What's measured improves."
  • “Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you've got.”
  • “Efficiency is doing better what is already being done."
  • “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
  • “People who don't take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”
  • “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.”
  • “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”
  • “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
  • “When a subject becomes totally obsolete we make it a required course.”
  • "Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility."
  • "To focus on contribution is to focus on effectiveness." [29]
  • "People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete – the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are." [30]
  • "Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision."
  • "Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done."
  • "You can only manage what you can measure." [31]
  • "What everybody knows is frequently wrong." [32]
  • "Do not simply cling to your past successes, be willing to change, adopt new ideas and continually review all the different segments of business." [33]
  • "success breeds success" "nothing succeeds like success" This statement from "A Class With Drucker" states that if you know you can succeed at something, then automatically you'll have the self confidence to do it. If you have been successful in the past, you have a better chance at being successful again.
  • "A leader, any leader, must act for the benefit of others and not for oneself," [34]


  1. ^ Drucker, Peter F., “Reflections of a Social Ecologist,” Society, May/June 1992
  2. ^ Drucker Institute - About Peter Drucker
  3. ^ a b c Byrne, John A.; Gerdes, Lindsey (November 28, 2005). "The Man Who Invented Management". BusinessWeek. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  4. ^ Drucker, Peter F., Concept of the Corporation, Preface to the 1983 edition, p. xvii, (1983)
  5. ^ Beatty, Jack, The World According to Peter Drucker, p. 5-7, (1998)
  6. ^ Beatty, Jack, The World According to Peter Drucker, p. 163, (1998)
  7. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Ecological Vision, p. 75-76, (1993)abcdefghijklmnopqr
  8. ^ Drucker Institute - The Drucker Legacy
  9. ^ The Drucker Institute Archives, Claremont, California. Box 39, Folder 11
  10. ^ “Peter Drucker, the man who changed the world,” Business Review Weekly, 15 September 1997, p. 49
  11. ^ Drucker, Peter F., Adventures of a Bystander, p. 288, (1979)
  12. ^ Drucker Institute - About Peter Drucker - Additional Sources - Other Pieces About Drucker
  13. ^ Drucker, Peter F., Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, p. 325, (1973)
  14. ^ Drucker Institute
  15. ^ Drucker, Peter F., Managing the Nonprofit Organization (1994)
  16. ^ Drucker, Peter F., Post-Capitalist Society, p. 177, (1993)
  17. ^ Drucker, P. F., Collins, J., Kotler, P., Kouzes, J., Rodin, J., Rangan, V. K., et al., The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About your Organization, p. xix (2008)
  18. ^ Planning a successful lesson
  19. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Practice of Management, pp 62-63, (1954)
  20. ^ Drucker, Peter F., Managing for the Future, p. 299, (1992)
  21. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Practice of Management, p. 12, (1954)
  22. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Practice of Management (1954)
  23. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, p.54, (2008)
  24. ^ Drucker, Peter F., "Classic Drucker", p. vii, (2006)
  25. ^
  26. ^ “Peter Drucker, Leading Management Guru, Dies at 95," Bloomberg, Nov. 11, 2005
  27. ^ Krueger, Dale, "Strategic Management and Management by Objectives", Small Business Advancement National Center, 1994
  28. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Practice of Management, p. 378, (1954)
  29. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Effective Executive, p. 70, (1967)
  30. ^ Drucker, Peter F., "The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization", p.54, (2008)
  31. ^ Cohen, William, "A Class with Drucker", p.53, (2008)
  32. ^ Cohen, William, "A Class with Drucker", p.29, (2008)
  33. ^ Cohen, William, "A Class with Drucker", p.56, (2008)
  34. ^ Cohen, William, "A Class with Drucker", p. 188, (2008)

Further reading

  • Tarrant, John C., Drucker: The Man Who Invented the Corporate Society (1976), ISBN 0-8436-0744-0
  • Beatty, Jack, The World According to Peter Drucker (1998), ISBN 0-684-83801-X
  • Flaherty, John E., Peter Drucker: Shaping the Managerial Mind (1999), ISBN 0-7879-4764-4
  • Edersheim, Elizabeth, The Definitive Drucker (2007), ISBN 0-07-147233-9
  • Cohen, William A., A Class with Drucker: The lost lessons of the World's greatest management teacher (2008), ISBN 978-0-8144-0919-0
  • Weber, Winfried W., Kulothungan, Gladius (eds.), Peter F. Drucker's Next Management. New Institutions, New Theories and Practices (2010), ISBN 978-3-9810228-6-5

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Peter Ferdinand Drucker (1909-11-192005-11-11) was an Austria-born American writer, management consultant and university professor. In 1943 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He taught at New York University and Claremont Graduate University respectively.



  • ...the information revolution. Almost everybody is sure ...that it is proceeding with unprecedented speed; and ...that its effects will be more radical than anything that has gone before. Wrong, and wrong again. Both in its speed and its impact, the information revolution uncannily resembles its two predecessors ...The first industrial revolution, triggered by James Watt's improved steam engine in the mid-1770s...did not produce many social and economic changes until the invention of the railroad in 1829 ...Similarly, the invention of the computer in the mid-1940s, was not until 40 years later, with the spread of the Internet in the 1990s, that the information revolution began to bring about big economic and social changes. ...the same emergence of the “super-rich” of their day, characterized both the first and the second industrial revolutions. ...These parallels are close and striking enough to make it almost certain that, as in the earlier industrial revolutions, the main effects of the information revolution on the next society still lie ahead. -- "The way ahead" (November 2001)
  • This new knowledge economy will rely heavily on knowledge workers. ...the most striking growth will be in “knowledge technologists:” computer technicians, software designers, analysts in clinical labs, manufacturing technologists, paralegals. ...They are not, as a rule, much better paid than traditional skilled workers, but they see themselves as “professionals.” Just as unskilled manual workers in manufacturing were the dominant social and political force in the 20th century, knowledge technologists are likely to become the dominant social—-and perhaps also political—-force over the next decades. -- "The next society" (November 2001)
  • Knowing Yourself ...We also seldom know what gifts we are not endowed with. We will have to learn where we belong, what we have to learn to get the full benefit from our strengths, where our weaknesses lie, what our values are. We also have to know ourselves temperamentally: "Do I work well with people, or am I a loner? What am I committed to? And what is my contribution?" -- Managing Knowledge Means Managing Oneself Leader to Leader, No. 16 (Spring 2000)
  • ...all earlier pluralist societies destroyed themselves because no one took care of the common good. They abounded in communities but could not sustain community, let alone create it. -- The New Pluralism Leader to Leader, No. 14 (Fall 1999)
  • ...human beings need community. If there are no communities available for constructive ends, there will be destructive, murderous communities... Only the social sector, that is, the nongovernmental, nonprofit organization, can create what we now need, communities for citizens... What the dawning 21st century needs above all is equally explosive growth of the nonprofit social sector in building communities in the newly dominant social environment, the city. Civilizing the City, Leader to Leader, No. 7 (Winter 1998)
  • Universities won't survive. The future is outside the traditional campus, outside the traditional classroom. Distance learning is coming on fast." I got my degree through E-mail, Forbes (June 16, 1997)
  • Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won't survive. It's as large a change as when we first got the printed book. Do you realize that the cost of higher education has risen as fast as the cost of health care? And for the middle-class family, college education for their children is as much of a necessity as is medical care—without it the kids have no future. Such totally uncontrollable expenditures, without any visible improvement in either the content or the quality of education, means that the system is rapidly becoming untenable. Higher education is in deep crisis.” Seeing things as they really are, Forbes (March 10, 1997)
  • ...what's absolutely unforgivable is the financial benefit top management people get for laying off people. There is no excuse for it. No justification. This is morally and socially unforgivable, and we will pay a heavy price for it. -- A cantankerous interview with Peter Drucker, Wired (August 1996)
  • That people even in well paid jobs choose ever earlier retirement is a severe indictment of our organizations -- not just business, but government service, the universities. These people don't find their jobs interesting. -- The Shape of Things to Come: An Interview with Peter F. Drucker Leader to Leader, No. 1 (Summer 1996)
  • The postwar [WWII] GI Bill of Rights--and the enthusiastic response to it on the part of America's veterans--signaled the shift to the knowledge society. Future historians may consider it the most important event of the twentieth century. We are clearly in the midst of this transformation; indeed, if history is any guide, it will not be completed until 2010 or 2020. But already it has changed the political, economic and moral landscape of the world. -- Managing in a Time of Great Change (1995)
  • This society in which knowledge workers dominate is in danger of a new "class conflict" between the large minority of knowledge workers and the majority of workers who will make their livings through traditional ways, either by manual work...or by service work. The productivity of knowledge work--still abysmally low--will predictably become the economic challenge of the knowledge society. On it will depend the ability of the knowledge society to give decent incomes, and with them dignity and status, to non knowledge people. -- Managing in a Time of Great Change (1995)
  • I would hope that American managers--indeed, managers worldwide--continue to appreciate what I have been saying almost from day one: that management is so much more than exercising rank and privilege, that it is much more than "making deals." Management affects people and their lives. -- Managing in a Time of Great Change (1995)
  • I think the growth industry of the future in this country and the world will soon be the continuing education of adults. ...I think the educated person of the future is somebody who realizes the need to continue to learn. That is the new definition and it is going to change the world we live in and work in. -- Managing in a Time of Great Change (1995)
  • Increasingly, politics is not about "who gets what, when, how" but about values, each of them considered to be absolute. Politics is about "the right to life"...It is about the environment. It is about gaining equality for groups alleged to be oppressed...None of these issues is economic. All are fundamentally moral. -- Atlantic Monthly (1994)
  • For the social ecologist language is not "communication." It is not just "message." It is substance. It is the cement that holds humanity together. It creates community and communication. ...Social ecologists need not be "great" writers; but they have to be respectful writers, caring writers. -- The Ecological Vision (1993)
  • That knowledge has become the resource, rather than a resource, is what makes our society "post-capitalist." -- Post-Capitalist Society p. 45 (1993)
  • If the feudal knight was the clearest embodiment of society in the early Middle Ages, and the "bourgeois" under Capitalism, the educated person will represent society in the post-capitalist society in which knowledge has become the central resource. -- Post-Capitalist Society (1993)
  • [[S%F8ren_Kierkegaard|Kierkegaard]] has another answer: human existence is possible as existence not in despair, as existence not in tragedy; it is possible as existence in faith... Faith is the belief that in God the impossible is possible, that in Him time and eternity are one, that both life and death are meaningful. -- The Ecological Vision: Reflections on the American Condition (1993)
  • A manager's task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weakness irrelevant--and that applies fully as much to the manager's boss as it applies to the manager's subordinates. -- Managing for the Future: The 1990's and Beyond (1992)
  • The subordinate's job is not to reform or reeducate the boss, not to make him conform to what the business schools or the management book say bosses should be like. It is to enable a particular boss to perform as a unique individual. -- Managing for the Future: The 1990's and Beyond (1992)
  • Keep the boss aware. Bosses, after all, are held responsible by their own bosses for the performance of their subordinates. They must be able to say: "I know what Anne [or John] is trying to do." -- Managing for the Future: The 1990's and Beyond (1992)
  • Never underrate the boss! The boss may look illiterate. He may look stupid. But there is no risk at all in overrating a boss. If you underrate him he will bitterly resent it or impute to you the deficiency in brains and knowledge you imputed to him. -- Managing for the Future: The 1990's and Beyond (1992)
  • Once a year ask the boss, "What do I or my people do that helps you to do your job?" and "What do I or my people do that hampers you?" -- Managing for the Future: The 1990's and Beyond (1992)
  • One of the great movements in my lifetime among educated people is the need to commit themselves to action. Most people are not satisfied with giving money; we also feel we need to work. That is why there is an enormous surge in the number of unpaid staff, volunteers. The needs are not going to go away. Business is not going to take up the slack, and government cannot. -- "New Priorities" Dancing Toward The Future, Context Institute, (1992)
  • Ideas are somewhat like babies--they are born small, immature, and shapeless. They are promise rather than fulfillment. In the innovative company executives do not say, "This is a damn-fool idea." Instead they ask, "What would be needed to make this embryonic, half-baked, foolish idea into something that makes sense, that is an opportunity for us?" -- The Frontiers of Management (1986)
  • All economic activity is by definition "high risk." And defending yesterday--that is, not innovating--is far more risky than making tomorrow. -- Innovations and Entrepreneurship (1985)
  • Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission. -- Adventures of a Bystander (1979) (Autobiography)
  • If "socialism" is defined as "ownership of the means of production"--and this is both the orthodox and the only rigorous definition--then the United States is the first truly Socialist country. -- The Pension Fund Revolution (1976)
  • [human types needed for top management tasks] ...the "thought man" ...the "action man" ...the "people man" ...the "front man" ...Yet those four temperaments are almost never found in one person. ...The one-man top management job is a major reason why business fail to grow. -- Management: Tasks Responsibilities Practices (1974)
  • An employer has no business with a man's personality. Employment is a specific contract calling for a specific performance... Any attempt to go beyond that is usurpation. It is immoral as well as an illegal intrusion of privacy. It is abuse of power. An employee owes no "loyalty," he owes no "love" and no "attitudes"--he owes performance and nothing else. .... The task is not to change personality, but to enable a person to achieve and to perform -- Management: Tasks Responsibilities Practices (1974)
  • Morale in an organization does not mean that "people get along together"; the test is performance not conformance. -- The Effective Executive (1966)
  • Large organizations cannot be versatile. A large organization is effective through its mass rather than through its agility. Fleas can jump many times their own height, but not an elephant. -- The Age of Discontinuity (1969)
  • The world economy is not yet a community--not even an economic community...Yet the existence of the "global shopping center" is a fact that cannot be undone. The vision of an economy for all will not be forgotten again. -- The Age of Discontinuity (1969)
  • The individual needs the return to spiritual values, for he can survive in the present human situation only by reaffirming that man is not just a biological and psychological being but also a spiritual being, that is creature, and existing for the purposes of his Creator and subject to Him -- Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • In the political, the social, the economic, even the cultural sphere, the revolutions of our time have been revolutions "against" rather than revolutions "for"... On the whole throughout this period the man--or party--that stood for doing the positive has usually cut a pathetic figure; well meaning but ineffectual, civilized but unrealistic, he was suspect alike to [by both] the ultras of destruction and the ultras of preservation and restoration. -- Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • The arts alone give direct access to experience. To eliminate them from education--or worse, to tolerate them as cultural ornaments--is antieducational obscurantism. It is foisted on us by the pedants and snobs of Hellenistic Greece who considered artistic performance fit only for slaves... -- Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • In book subjects a student can only do a student's work. All that can be measured is how well he learns, rather than how well he performs. All he can show is promise. -- Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • We no longer even understand the question whether change is by itself good or bad, ...We start out with the axiom that it is the norm. We do not see change as altering the order... We see change as being order itself--indeed the only order we can comprehend today is a dynamic, a moving, a changing one. -- Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • Tomorrow everybody--or practically everybody--will have had the education of the upper class of yesterday, and will expect equivalent opportunities. That is why we face the problem of making every kind of job meaningful and capable of satisfying every educated man. -- Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • ...throughout the ages to be educated meant to be unproductive. ...our word "school"--and its equivalent in all European languages--derives from a Greek word meaning "leisure." -- Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • Communism is evil. Its driving forces are the deadly sins of envy and hatred. -- Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • Through systematic terror, through indoctrination, through systematic manipulation of stimulus, reward, and punishment, we can today break man and convert him into brute animal. ...The first step toward survival is therefore to make government legitimate again by attempting to deprive it of these powers... by international action to ban such powers. -- Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • No matter how deeply wedded one may be to the free enterprise system (and I, for one, am wedded for life), one has to accept the need for positive government; one has to consider government action on a sizable scale as desirable rather than as a necessary evil. -- Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • An organization is "sick" -- when promotion becomes more important to its people than accomplishment of their job -- when it is more concerned with avoiding mistakes than with taking risks -- and with counteracting the weaknesses of its members than with building on their strength -- and when good human relations become more important than performance and achievement. ...The moment people talk of "implementing" instead of "doing," and of "finalizing" instead of "finishing," the organization is already running a fever. Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New 'Post-Modern' World (1959)
  • A man should never be appointed into a managerial position if his vision focuses on people's weaknesses rather than on their strengths. -- The Practice of Management (1954)
  • The better a man is, the more mistakes will he make--for the more new things he will try. I would never promote a man into a top level job who had not made mistakes, and big ones at that. Otherwise he is sure to be mediocre. -- The Practice of Management (1954)
  • There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer. -- The Practice of Management (1954)
  • It does not follow from the separation of planning and doing in the analysis of work that the planner and the doer should be two different people. It does not follow that the industrial world should be divided into two classes of people: a few who decide what is to be done, design the job, set the pace, rhythm and motions, and order others about; and the many who do what and as they are told. -- The Practice of Management (1954)
  • It does not matter whether the worker wants responsibility or not, ...The enterprise must demand it of him. -- The Practice of Management (1954)
  • --A manager sets objectives--A manager organizes--A manager motivates and communicates--A manager, by establishing yardsticks, measures--A manager develops people. The Practice of Management (1954)
  • The fundamental reality for every worker, from sweeper to executive vice-president, is the eight hours or so that he spends on the job. In our society of organizations, it is the job through which the great majority has access to achievement, to fulfillment, and to community. -- The Practice of Management (1954)
  • Capitalism is being attacked not because it is inefficient or misgoverned but because it is cynical. And indeed a society based on the assertion that private vices become public benefits cannot endure, no matter how impeccable its logic, no matter how great its benefits. -- The Practice of Management (1954)
  • Free enterprise cannot be justified as being good for business. It can be justified only as being good for society. The Practice of Management (1954)
  • For if this country... were to make its defense program a function of its domestic employment situation, it would become impossible to conduct a constructive and well-thought out foreign policy or to develop any lasting collaboration. Note: compare Dwight Eisenhower's January, 1961 Farewell Speech -- The New Society (1950)
  • That the government's power under the Taft-Hartley Act to stop a strike by injunction so clearly strengthens the hand of the employer--even though it is used only when a strike threatens the national health, welfare, or safety--is a grave blemish and explains much of union resistance to the Act. -- The New Society (1950)
  • We still think and talk of the basic problems of an industrial society as problems that can be solved by changing the system, that is the superstructure of political organization. Yet the real problems lie within the [industrial] enterprise. ...our representative institution... a mirror in which we look when we want to see ourselves. -- The New Society (1950)
  • The major incentive to productivity and efficiency are social and moral rather than financial. -- The New Society (1950)
  • What the worker needs is to see the plant as if he were a manager. Only thus can he see his part, from his part he can reach the whole. This "seeing" is not a matter of information, training courses, conducted plant tours, or similar devices. What is needed is the actual experience of the whole in and through the individual's work. -- The New Society (1950)
  • If war production should remain the only way out of a long-term depression, industrial society would be reduced to the choice between suicide through total war or suicide through total depression. Note: compare Dwight Eisenhower's January, 1961 Farewell Speech Concept of the Corporation (1945)
  • No society can function as a society, unless it gives the individual member social status and function, and unless the decisive social power is legitimate. -- The Future of Industrial Man (1942)
  • In the modern corporation the decisive power, that of the managers, is derived from no one but the managers themselves controlled by nobody and nothing and responsible to no one. It is in the most literal sense unfounded, unjustified, uncontrolled and irresponsible power. -- The Future of Industrial Man (1942)
  • Unless the power of the corporation can be organized on an accepted principle of legitimacy, it taken over by a Central government... -- The Future of Industrial Man (1942)
  • We have only one alternative: either to build a functioning industrial society or see freedom itself disappear in anarchy and tyranny. -- The Future of Industrial Man (1942)
  • Political freedom is neither easy nor automatic, neither pleasant nor secure. It is the responsibility of the individual for the decisions of society as if they were his own decisions--as in moral truth and accountability they are. -- The Future of Industrial Man (1942)
  • Unless we realize that the essence of Nazism is also an attempt to solve a universal problem of Western civilization--that of the industrial society--and that the basic principles on which the Nazis base this attempt are also in no way confined to Germany, we do not know what we fight for or what we fight against. ...The war is being fought for the structure of industrial society--its basic principles, its purposes, and its institutions. -- The Future of Industrial Man (1942)
  • This is a political book... It has a political purpose: to strengthen the will to maintain freedom against the threat of its abandonment in favor of totalitarianism. -- The End of Economic Man (1939)
  • With Christianity, freedom and equality became the two basic concepts of Europe; they are themselves Europe. -- The End of Economic Man (1939)
  • There is an unbroken chain of opposition to the introduction of economic freedom and to the capitalist autonomy of the economic sphere. ...In every case the opposition could only be overcome--peacefully or by force--because of the promise of capitalism to establish equality. ...That this promise was an illusion we all know. -- The End of Economic Man (1939)
  • Capitalism as a social order and as a creed is the expression of the belief in economic progress as leading toward the freedom and equality of the individual in a free and open society. Marxism expects this society to result from the abolition of private profit. Capitalism expects the free and equal society to result from the enthronement of private profit as supreme ruler of social behavior... -- The End of Economic Man (1939)
  • Fascism is the result of the collapse of Europe's spiritual and social order. ...catastrophes broke through the everyday routine which makes men accept existing forms, institutions and tenets as unalterable natural laws. They suddenly exposed the vacuum behind the facade of society. -- The End of Economic Man (1939)
  • [the masses] ...must turn their hopes toward a miracle. In the depths of their despair reason cannot be believed, truth must be false, and lies must be truth. "Higher bread prices," "lower bread prices," "unchanged bread prices" have all failed. The only hope lies in a kind of bread price which is none of these, which nobody has ever seen before, and which belies the evidence of one's reason. -- The End of Economic Man (1939)

MANAGEMENT: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (1973)

  • Our society has become an employee society.
    • Introduction, Chapter 1, pg.4
  • Without institution there is no management. But without management there is no institution.
    • Introduction, Chapter 1, pg.6
  • We will have to learn to lead people rather then to contain them.
    • Introduction, Chapter 3, pg.30
  • A primary task of management in the developed countries in the decades ahead will be to make knowledge productive.
    • Introduction, Chapter 3, pg.32
  • A management decision is irresponsible if it risks disaster this year for the sake of a grandiose future.
    • Part 1, Chapter 4, pg.43
  • The only thing we know about the future is that it is going to be different.
    • Part 1, Chapter 4, pg.44
  • The concept of profit maximization is, in fact, meaningless.
    • Part 1, Chapter 6, pg.59
  • Profit is not a cause but a result-
    • Part 1, Chapter 6, pg.71
  • Success always obsoletes the very behavior that achieved it.
    • Part 1, Chapter 7, pg.88
  • The basic definition of the business and of its purpose and mission have to be translated into objectives.
    • Part 1, Chapter 8, pg.99
  • It is better to pick the wrong priority than none at all.
    • Part 1, Chapter 9, pg.119
  • Decisions exist only in the present.
    • Part 1, Chapter 10, pg.125
  • The fault is in the system and not in the men.
    • Part 1, Chapter 12, pg.140
  • A success that has outlived its usefulness may, in the end, be more damaging than failure.
    • Part 1, Chapter 14, pg.159
  • One cannot hire a hand; the whole man always comes with it.
    • Part 1, Chapter 15, pg.169
  • As with every phenomenon of the objective universe, the first step toward understanding work is to analyze it.
    • Part 1, Chapter 16, pg.182
  • "Loafing" is easy, but "leisure" is difficult.
    • Part 1, Chapter 16, pg.185
  • The first step toward making the worker achieving is to make work productive.
    • Part 1, Chapter 17, pg.199
  • When Henry Ford said, "The customer can have a car in any color as long as it's black," he was not joking.
    • Part 1, Chapter 17, pg.209
  • A tool is not necessarily better because it is bigger. A tool is best if it does the job required with a minimum of effort, with a minimum of complexity, and with a minimum of power.
    • Part 1, Chapter 18, pg.224
  • The society of organizations is new-only seventy years ago employees were a small minority in every society.
    • Part 1, Chapter 21, pg.284
  • Management has authority only as long as it performs.
    • Part 1, Chapter 23, pg.301
  • It has been said, and only half in jest, that a tough, professionally led union is a great force for improving management performance. It forces the manager to think about what he is doing and to be able to explain his actions and behavior.
    • Part 1, Chapter 23, pg.303
  • And no matter how serious an environmental problem the automobile poses in today's big city, the horse was dirtier, smelled worse, killed and maimed more people, and congested the streets just as much.
    • Part 1, Chapter 24, pg.317
  • Wherever an impact can be eliminated by dropping the activity that causes it, this is therefore the best-indeed the only truly good-solution.
    • Part 1, Chapter 25, pg.333
  • The manager is a servant. His master is the institution he manages and his first responsibility must therefore be to it.
    • Part 1, Chapter 26, pg.343
  • We do not need more laws. No country suffers from a shortage of laws. We need a new model.
    • Part 1, Chapter 27, pg.364
  • The worker's effectiveness is determined largely by the way he is being managed.
    • Part 2, Chapter 29, pg.380
  • To be a manager requires more than a title, a big office, and other outward symbols of rank. It requires competence and performance of a high order.
    • Part 2, Chapter 31, pg.398
  • A superior who works on his own development sets an almost irresistible example.
    • Part 2, Chapter 33, pg.427
  • The purpose of an organization is to enable common men to do uncommon things.
    • Part 2, Chapter 36, pg.455
  • Executives do many things in addition to making decisions. But only executives make decisions. The first managerial skill is, therefore, the making of effective decisions.
    • Part 2, Chapter 37, pg.465
  • One has to make a decision when a condition is likely to degenerate if nothing is done.
    • Part 2, Chapter 37, pg.475
  • The tool user, provided the tool is made well, need not, and indeed should not, know anything about the tool.
    • Part 2, Chapter 40, pg.513
  • One reason for the tremendous increase in health-care costs in the U.S. is managerial neglect of the "hotel services" by the people who dominate the hospital, such as doctors and nurses.
    • Part 2, Chapter 42, pg.539
  • The rule should be to minimize the need for people to get together to accomplish anything.
    • Part 2, Chapter 43, pg.548
  • Top management as a function and as a structure was first developed by Georg Siemens (1839-1901)in Germany between 1870 and 1880, when he designed and built the Deutsche Bank and made it, within a very few years, into continental Europe's leading and most dynamic financial institution.
    • Part 3, Chapter 49, pg.605
  • There is a point at which a transformation has to take place.
    • Part 3, Chapter 53, pg.640
  • "Value added" is a meaningless concept for a retail business , for a bank, for a life insurance company, and for any other business which is not primarily engaged in manufacturing.
    • Part 3, Chapter 54, pg.647
  • Absolute size by itself is no indicator of success and achievement, let alone of managerial competence. Being the right size is.
    • Part 3, Chapter 55, pg.672
  • There is a point of complexity beyond which a business is no longer manageable.
    • Part 3, Chapter 56, pg.681
  • Financial "synergy" is a will-o'-the-wisp.It looks good on paper, but it fails to work out in practice.
    • Part 3, Chapter 57, pg.707
  • Organizationally what is required - and evolving - is systems management.
    • Part 3, Chapter 59, pg.761
  • Growth as a goal, to repeat, is delusion. William James, the American philosopher, talked of the "bitch goddess success." A philosopher of business today might well talk of the "bitch goddess growth."
    • Part 3, Chapter 60, pg.780
  • There is every indication that the period ahead will be an innovative one, one of rapid change in technology, society, economy, and institutions.
    • Part 3, Chapter 61, pg.803 (last page)

Quotes About Peter Drucker


  • The World According to Peter Drucker Jack Beatty, The Free Press, 1998

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