Peter Drucker
Peter Ferdinand Drucker

(1909-11-19)November 19, 1909
DiedNovember 11, 2005(2005-11-11) (aged 95)
Alma materGoethe University Frankfurt (PhD)
Occupation(s)Management consultant, educator and author
AwardsHenry Laurence Gantt Medal (1959)
Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class (1991)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (2002)

Peter Ferdinand Drucker (/ˈdrʌkər/; German: [ˈdʀʊkɐ]; November 19, 1909 – November 11, 2005) was an Austrian American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of modern management theory. He was also a leader in the development of management education, and invented the concepts known as management by objectives and self-control,[1] and he has been described as "the champion of management as a serious discipline".[2]

Drucker's books and articles, both scholarly and popular, explored how humans are organized across the business, government, and nonprofit sectors of society.[3] He is one of the best-known and most widely influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice. 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.[4] In 1959, Drucker coined the term "knowledge worker", and later in his life considered knowledge-worker productivity to be the next frontier of management.[5]


Drucker grew up in what he referred to as a "liberal" Lutheran Protestant household in Austria-Hungary.[6] His mother Caroline Bondi had studied medicine and his father Adolf Drucker was a lawyer and high-level civil servant.[7] Drucker was born in Vienna, Austria, in the 19th district of Vienna-Döbling.[8] He grew up in a home where intellectuals, high government officials, and scientists would meet to discuss new ideas.[9] These included Joseph Schumpeter, Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. Hans Kelsen was his uncle.[10]

After graduating from Döbling Gymnasium in 1927,[10] Drucker found few opportunities for employment in post-World War I 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).[7] Drucker then moved to Frankfurt, where he took a job at the Daily Frankfurter General-Anzeiger.[11] While in Frankfurt, he also earned a doctorate in international law and public law from the Goethe University Frankfurt in 1931.[12]

In 1933, Drucker left Germany for England.[13] In London, he worked as a security analyst for an insurance company, then as the chief economist at a private bank.[14][15] While in London, Drucker regularly attended John Maynard Keynes seminars at Cambridge University, discovering that he was interested in "the behavior of people" while Keynes and other students focused on "the behavior of commodities."[16]

In 1937, Peter Drucker married Doris Schmitz, an classmate from the University of Frankfurt.[17] The Druckers then moved to the U.S., where Peter Drucker became a freelance journalist writing for Harper's and The Washington Post.[18] In 1939, Drucker joined Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York as a part-time economics instructor. Drucker was fired in 1941 after refusing to sign a faculty manifesto that he said "viciously and falsely attacked the liberal president of Brooklyn College, Harry Gideonse," who had supported the UK against Nazi Germany in the Battle of Britain.[19] His 1939 book, The End of Economic Man, attracted attention of Bennington College president Lewis Webster Jones, who invited Drucker to lecture on the book.[20] Despite some faculty objections, Jones hired Drucker as a professor of politics and philosophy at Bennington, a position Drucker would hold from 1942 to 1949.[20][21] With the U.S. engaged in World War II, Drucker also became a consultant on international economic policy to the Board of Economic Warfare.[19] In 1943, Drucker became a naturalized citizen of the United States.[22]

Then from 1950 to 1971, Drucker was a professor of management at New York University.[21] In 1954, Drucker to wrote The Practice of Management, a book he set out to write after finding a lack of books specifically about business management at the General Electric library in Crotonville, New York. The Saturday Review and Business Week praised The Practice of Management as groundbreaking.[23]

Drucker went 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 until his death, he was the Clarke Professor of Social Science and Management at Claremont.[21] Claremont Graduate University's management school was named the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management in his honor in 1987 (later renamed the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management). He established the Drucker Archives at Claremont Graduate University in 1999; the Archives became the Drucker Institute in 2006. Drucker taught his last class in 2002 at age 92. He continued to act as a consultant to businesses and nonprofit organizations well into his nineties.[24]

Work and philosophy

Early influences

Among Drucker's early influences was the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, a friend of his father's, who impressed upon Drucker the idea of the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship.[25] Drucker was also influenced, in a much different way, by John Maynard Keynes, whom he heard lecture in 1934 in Cambridge.[26] "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".[27]

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.[3] As a 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."[28]

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.[4] In 1939 he published a contemporary analysis of the rise of fascism called "The End of Economic Man". This was his first book, published in New York, in English. In the introduction he refers to "The Jewish Question in Germany" saying "An early excerpt [of this book] was published as a pamphlet by an Austrian Catholic and Anti-Nazi in ... 1936".[29]

The "business thinker"

Drucker's 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 re-examine 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."[30]

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.[3] 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."[31]

Drucker 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 goodwill.[32] If their organizations struggled, he believed it was usually because of outdated ideas, a narrow conception of problems, or internal misunderstandings.

Drucker developed an extensive consulting business built around his personal relationship with top management. He became legendary among many of post-war Japan's new business leaders trying to rebuild their war-torn homeland. He advised the heads of General Motors, Sears, General Electric, W.R. Grace and IBM, among many others. Over time he offered his management advice to nonprofits like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. His advice was eagerly sought by the senior executives of the Adela Investment Company, a private initiative of the world's multinational corporations to promote investment in the developing countries of Latin America.[33]


Drucker's 39 books have been translated into more than thirty-six languages. Two are novels, and one – Adventures of a Bystander (1978) – is 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 10 years and contributed frequently to the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Economist.

His work is especially popular in Japan, even more so after the publication of "What If the Female Manager of a High-School Baseball Team Read Drucker's Management", a novel that features the main character using one of his books to great effect, which was also adapted into an anime and a live action film.[34] His popularity in Japan may be compared with that of his contemporary W. Edwards Deming.[35]

Key ideas


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 the English language was the official language for all employees at Japan's Mitsui trading company. Drucker defended himself: "I use anecdotes to make a point, not to write history."

Also, while Drucker was known for his prescience, he was not always correct in his forecasts. He predicted, for instance, that the United States' financial center would shift from New York to Washington.[57][needs update]

Others maintain that one of Drucker's core concepts, "management by objectives," is flawed and has never really been proven to work effectively. Critic Dale Krueger said that the system is difficult to implement and that companies often wind up overemphasizing control, as opposed to fostering creativity, to meet their goals.[58]

Drucker's classic work, Concept of the Corporation, criticized General Motors while it was considered the most successful corporation in the world. Many of GM's executives considered Drucker persona non grata for a long time afterward. Although Alfred P. Sloan refrained from personal hostility toward Drucker, he considered Drucker's critiques of GM's management to be "dead wrong".[59]

Awards and honors

Drucker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President George W. Bush on July 9, 2002.[60] He also received honors from the government of Austria,[61] including the Grand Silver Medal for Services to the Republic of Austria in 1974,[62] the Grand Gold Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria in 1991[63] and the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class in 1999[64] and the Order of the Sacred Treasure, 3rd class; June 24, 1966, from the government of Japan.[65]

Drucker was the Honorary Chairman of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, now the Leader to Leader Institute, from 1990 through 2002.[66] In 1969 he was awarded New York University's highest honor, its Presidential Citation.[67] For his article, "What Makes an Effective Executive", Harvard Business Review honored Drucker in the June 2004 with his seventh McKinsey Award – the most awarded to an individual.[68] Drucker was inducted into the Junior Achievement US Business Hall of Fame in 1996.[69] He received 25 honorary doctorates from American, Belgian, Czech, English, Spanish and Swiss universities.[70] His 1954 book The Practice of Management was voted the third most influential management book of the 20th century in a poll of the Fellows of the Academy of Management.[71] In Claremont, California, Eleventh Street between College Avenue and Dartmouth Avenue was renamed "Drucker Way" in October 2009 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Drucker's birth.[72] Drucker was posthumously honored when he was inducted into the Outsourcing Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the field.[73] In 2018, Drucker was named the world's most influential business thinker on the list.[74]


At Claremont Graduate University, the Peter F. Drucker Graduate Management Center – now the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management – was established in 1987 and continues to be guided by Drucker's principles.[75]

The annual Global Peter Drucker Forum was first held in 2009, the centenary of Drucker's birth.[76]

Personal life

Peter Drucker married Doris Schmitz in 1937; they had four children. On November 11, 2005, Peter Drucker died of natural causes in Claremont, California, aged 95.[77][22] Doris died in October 2014 at the age of 103.[78]


Other publications

Early monographs in German
Contributing writer


Works cited
  1. ^ Drucker, Peter F. (June 1992). "Reflections of a Social Ecologist". Society. 29 (4): 57–64. doi:10.1007/BF02695313. S2CID 144879884.
  2. ^ Beatty 1998, p. 1.
  3. ^ a b c Why Drucker Now? Archived December 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Drucker Institute.
  4. ^ a b Byrne, John A.; Gerdes, Lindsey (November 28, 2005). "The Man Who Invented Management". BusinessWeek. Archived from the original on November 25, 2005. Retrieved November 2, 2009.
  5. ^ Davenport, Thomas H. Thinking for a Living, 2005, p. 8.
  6. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Ecological Vision: Reflections on the Human condition, 2016, p. 425.
  7. ^ a b Drucker, Peter F. Adventures of a Bystander, 1979.
  8. ^ "Biography: Drucker's childhood and youth in Vienna". Archived from the original on September 8, 2002. Retrieved June 22, 2024.
  9. ^ Beatty 1998, pp. 5–7.
  10. ^ a b "Drucker's childhood and youth in Vienna". Drucker Society of Austria. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  11. ^ Drucker, Peter F. Adventures of a Bystander, 1979, p. 159.
  12. ^ "Obituary: Peter Drucker, 95, Economist Who Prized Value of Workers," The New York Times, November 13, 2005.
  13. ^ Drucker, Peter F.;Cohen, William. A Class with Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World's Greatest Management Teacher, 2007, p. 242.
  14. ^ "Biography: Drucker's emigration to England". Archived from the original on September 29, 2002. Retrieved June 22, 2024.
  15. ^ Beatty 1998, p. 16.
  16. ^ Beatty 1998, p. 17.
  17. ^ Beatty 1998, pp. 14, 16–18.
  18. ^ "Biography: How Drucker 'invented' management at General Motors". Archived from the original on January 31, 2003. Retrieved June 22, 2024.
  19. ^ a b Beatty 1998, pp. 39–40.
  20. ^ a b Linkletter, Karen E. (2024). Peter Drucker and Management. e-book. New York: Routledge. p. 30. ISBN 9781003410485 – via Google Books.
  21. ^ a b c "Drucker, Peter (Ferdinand)". Writers Directory 2005. Gale Group. 2005. Retrieved June 22, 2024.
  22. ^ a b Feder, Barnaby J. (November 12, 2005). "Peter F. Drucker, a Pioneer in Social and Management Theory, Is Dead at 95". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 6, 2013. Retrieved June 22, 2024.
  23. ^ Beatty 1998, pp. 101–103.
  24. ^ Beatty 1998, pp. 20–21.
  25. ^ Beatty 1998, p. 163.
  26. ^ Drucker, Peter F. The Ecological Vision: Reflections on the Human Condition, 1993, p. 75.
  27. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Ecological Vision, 1993, pp. 75–76.
  28. ^ "Peter Drucker, the man who changed the world", Business Review Weekly, September 15, 1997, p. 49.
  29. ^ "The End of Economic Man, Introduction to the Transaction Edition" Transaction Publishing, 2009. Drucker was among the 2,300 names of prominent persons listed on the Nazis' Special Search List, of those who were to be arrested on the invasion of Great Britain and turned over to the Gestapo.
  30. ^ Drucker, Peter F., Adventures of a Bystander, p. 288, (1979)
  31. ^ Drucker, Peter F., Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, 1973, p. 325.
  32. ^ [bare URL PDF]
  33. ^ Wartzman, Rick. "How to Consult Like Peter Drucker". Forbes.
  34. ^ Drucker in the dug-out, A Japanese book about Peter Drucker and baseball is an unlikely hit, The Economist, July 1, 2010
  35. ^ Outcome-Based Religions: Purpose-Driven Apostasy, Mac Dominick, "The quest begins by looking into the lives of two men, Edwards Deming and Peter Drucker. Deming (now deceased) and Drucker (in his mid 90s) are enshrined as internationally renowned experts in business management and gurus of business methodology. These two individuals were among the primary players in a select group of Americans (Though Drucker is a U.S. citizen, he is actually Austrian.) who are lauded as part of the almost super-human effort that developed systems-based management philosophies that first gained public recognition in post-World War II Japan. The popular story is told of the Americans who developed a cutting edge business methodology that was rejected by western business but eagerly embraced by the Japanese.", quoted at Total Quality Management (TQM)
  36. ^ Buchanan, Leigh (November 19, 2009). "Peter Drucker from A to Z". Inc. magazine. Archived from the original on March 8, 2010. Retrieved June 22, 2024.
  37. ^ Drucker, Peter (November 1994). "The Age of Social Transformation". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  38. ^ Wartzman, Rick (February 5, 2010). "Insourcing and Outsourcing: the Right Mix". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on February 10, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  39. ^ Drucker, Peter (July 1989). "What Business Can Learn from Nonprofits". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  40. ^ Drucker, Peter (May 23, 1983). "Schumpeter And Keynes". Forbes. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  41. ^ Drucker, P.F., Innovation and Entrepreneurship, p. 250 (1985)
  42. ^ Quoted in Watson, Gregory H., Peter F. Drucker: Delivering Value to Customers, Quality Progress, May 2002, accessed February 23, 2021
  43. ^ 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)
  44. ^ Drucker, Peter (1969). The Age of Discontinuity. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-1-56000-618-3.
  45. ^ Pollitt and Bouckaert, Christopher and Geert (2011). Public Management Reform. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-19-959508-2.
  46. ^ Drucker, Peter (1974). Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-0-7506-4389-4.
  47. ^ Drucker, Peter (1942). The Future of Industrial Man. New York: The John Day Company. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-56000-623-7.
  48. ^ Drucker, Peter (1990). Managing the Non-Profit Organization. New York: HarperCollins. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-7506-2691-0.
  49. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Practice of Management, pp. 62–63, (1954)
  50. ^ Drucker, Peter F., Managing for the Future, p. 299, (1992)
  51. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Practice of Management, p. 12, (1954)
  52. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Practice of Management (1954)
  53. ^ Drucker, Peter F., The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, p. 54, (2008)
  54. ^ Haus, Marian (October 9, 2011). "Best 10 Peter Drucker Quotes". pmseed thoughts on managing project work. pmseed. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  55. ^ Vitasek, Kate (June 1, 2010). "A New way to Outsource". Forbes.
  56. ^ Drucker, Peter (November 15, 2005). "Sell the Mailroom". Wall Street Journal (Manager's Journal). Dow Jones Company. Retrieved April 27, 2015Reprint from July 25, 1989((cite journal)): CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  57. ^ "Peter Drucker, Leading Management Guru, Dies at 95," Bloomberg, November 11, 2005.
  58. ^ Krueger, Dale. Strategic Management and Management by Objectives, Small Business Advancement National Center, 1994.
  59. ^ Drucker, Peter. Introduction, pp. v–vi, in Sloan, Alfred P. (1964), McDonald, John, ed., My Years with General Motors, Garden City, New York: Doubleday, LCCN 64-11306, OCLC 802024. ISBN 978-0385042352
  60. ^ Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony, 2002-07-09, The Drucker Institute Archives, Claremont, California.
  61. ^ Great Silver Award, Box 8, Folder 7, The Drucker Institute and Archives, Claremont, California.
  62. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 398. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
  63. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 905. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
  64. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 1305. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
  65. ^ Japanese Decoration of Honor, Box 8, Folder 7, The Drucker Institute Archives, Claremont, California.
  66. ^ Drucker, Peter. Biographical data, Box 35, Folder 30, The Drucker Institute Archive, Claremont, California.
  67. ^ Letter recognizing Presidential Citation of New York University, Box 8, Folder 7, The Drucker Institute Archives, Claremont, California.
  68. ^ McKinsey Award Winners at Harvard Business Review
  69. ^ "Peter F. Drucker". U.S. Business Hall of Fame. Junior Achievement. Archived from the original on June 19, 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  70. ^ Honorary Degrees in The Drucker Institute Archives, Claremont, California.
  71. ^ Bedeian, Arthur G.; Wren, Daniel A. (Winter 2001). "Most Influential Management Books of the 20th Century" (PDF). Organizational Dynamics. 29 (3): 221–25. doi:10.1016/S0090-2616(01)00022-5.
  72. ^ Wassenaar, Christina (October 8, 2009). "Eleventh Street in Claremont, Calif., will be renamed 'Drucker Way'". Drucker Institute. Archived from the original on January 22, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  73. ^ Wartzman, Rick (February 2010). "Insourcing and Outsourcing: the Right Mix". Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg Archived from the original on February 10, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  74. ^ "2018 Hall of Fame Inductees". Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  75. ^ "Drucker School of Management". Claremont Graduate University. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  76. ^ "HRPS, People & Strategy Attend First Global Drucker Forum" (PDF). People & Strategy: 68. 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  77. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (November 12, 2005). "Management Visionary Peter Drucker Dies". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 12, 2008. Retrieved June 22, 2024.
  78. ^ Colker, David (October 4, 2014). "Doris Drucker dies at 103; memoirist and wife of Peter Drucker". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Further reading