Peter Drucker's Influence in Japan

By Ueno, Chuck | People & Strategy, December 2009 | Go to article overview
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Peter Drucker's Influence in Japan

Ueno, Chuck, People & Strategy

There are a great number of Japanese company executives who devote themselves to the thought of Drucker as the person who invented management. The classic The Practice of Management sold 1 million copies in Japan, out of 5 million copies in the world. Drucker's books are always listed as best-sellers.

After the war, many Japanese company executives were influenced by Drucker's thoughts and his practical management, and these principles came into play in developing the postwar Japanese economy. Drucker wrote about his expectation that Japan would reach a turning point and develop into a new society. Drucker always looked at "new society" and was trying to ascertain the future of management. There were enormous numbers of people (Japanese statesmen, corporate executives and businessmen) who learned the main point of corporate management and the directionality of politics from Drucker's writings.

Lucky Encounters

In June 1934, at 24 years of age, Drucker by chance encountered Japanese traditional painting at an art gallery in London and became captivated by this art form. This interest triggered Drucker's attraction to Japanese culture and spurred his lifelong interest in Japan.

By the mid 1950s in Japan, the urgent demand caused by the postwar reconstruction after World War II was almost satisfied. This economic situation led to a growing interest in improved management techniques. The Japan Productivity Center (JPC), established in the spring of 1955, organized seminars, continuously dispatched overseas inspection teams and worked diligently to close the management gap between Japan and the United States relative to productivity improvement.

Taizo Ishizaka, Chairman of the Japan Business Federation, who visited various places in the United States as the head of the top management team dispatched by the JPC, wrote this recommendation for The Practice of Management (1956, Japanese edition): "This book was provided for the executive suite of any company which I visited during an inspection trip." This made a big ripple, and Drucker's The Practice of Management suddenly was accepted in Japanese industry. Whereas before practitioners were having a difficult time with business administration, they finally recovered from their uncertainty and were prepared to move the country forward.

Visiting Japan

Drucker visited Japan for the first time in 1959. After that, he traveled to Japan every other year, staying for several weeks and bringing his family. These visits continued until 1996 when he was 86 years old.

After his first trip to Japan, Drucker said: "My Japan visit was undertaken with pleasure. I wanted to watch Japanese traditional painting to tell the truth.

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