Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

In Memoriam Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005)

Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

In Memoriam Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005)

Article excerpt

Peter F. Drucker, who was often called the world's most influential business scholar and whose thinking transformed corporate management in the latter half of the 20th century, died November 11th at his home in Claremont, California. His work influenced Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Jack Welch and the Japanese business establishment. He authored more than three dozen books, translated into 30 languages, and received more than 20 honorary degrees in the USA, England, Japan, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and the Czech Republic.

Peter F. Drucker was born in Vienna on November 19th, 1909. He was educated in Austria, Germany, and England. He started his career in Economics (by) working for several German banks and export companies, and, at the same time, as economic journalist for Austrian and German newspapers and international banks in London. In 1929, he won a doctoral degree in Law at the University of Berlin. Due to the rising German anti-semitism after Hitler's coming to power in 1933, he left Germany and went to England, where he worked as a consultant for British banks and insurance companies. In 1938, he moved to the United States, starting his professional career as a consultant for American companies while still working as an economic journalist. Industrial giants like General Motors, IBM, Caterpillar, Merck, and Hewlett Packard sought his advice. To this day, his commentaries in the British and American press are valued and cited for their critique and visionary content. During World War II, he worked for the US State Department's intelligence.

Also during World War II, in 1942, he started his career as a university professor at Bennington College. From 1949, he read Management at the New York University. In 1971, Peter Drucker moved to California, where he helped to develop the country's first executive master's of business administration program for working professionals at Claremont Graduate University. Its management school, where he taught until 2002, is named after him.

Mr. Drucker pioneered the idea of privatization and the corporation as a social institution. He coined the terms "knowledge workers" and "management by objectives". Central to his philosophy was the belief that highly skilled people are an organization's most valuable resource and that a manager's job is to prepare and free people to perform. Good management could bring economic progress and social harmony, he said, adding that "although I believe in the free market, I have serious reservations about capitalism.". Mr. Drucker demanded that public and private organizations operate ethically and decried managers who reap bonuses by laying off employees. "This is morally and socially unforgivable, and we will pay a heavy price for it," he said. Although he was not always right with his visions, "in the world of management gurus, there is no debate. Peter Drucker is the one guru to whom other gurus kowtow," said the McKinsley Quarterly in 1996.

Commemorating Prof. Peter F. Drucker, JEEMS reprints hereafter an interview taken with him in 1997 when he was receiving an honorary degree from the University of Economics Prague. The questions were asked by Radim Vlcek, Jan Trunecek as well as by our advisory board member Ivan Novy.

Prof Drucker, you have defined management as a practice rather than a science. Do you think that this definition will be held in the future? Which trends can be expected in the development of management? In your opinion, which will dominate, rather hard or rather soft elements of prosperity in today's understanding?

Peter F. Drucker: Management is definitely not a "science", as the word "science" is used in the English-speaking countries. It is equally not an "art". It is a Practice. In that, it is similar to medicine, which it resembles in a good many other respects as well - for instance, in the need in many situations for a careful diagnosis, rather than a standard prescription. And, as in medicine, the results are not "scientific". …

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