Management Guru Peter Drucker, 95, Dies
By ALEX VEIGA, Associated Press Writer
Peter F. Drucker, revered as the father of modern management for his numerous books and articles stressing innovation, entrepreneurship and strategies for dealing with a changing world, died Friday, a spokesman for Claremont Graduate University said. He was 95.
Drucker died of natural causes at his home in Claremont, east of Los Angeles, said spokesman Bryan Schneider.
"He is purely and simply the most important developer of effective management and of effective public policy in the 20th century," former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Friday. "In the more than 30 years that I've studied him, talked with him and learned from him, he has been invaluable and irreplaceable."
Drucker was considered a management visionary for his recognition that dedicated employees are key to the success of any corporation, and marketing and innovation should come before worries about finances.
His motivational techniques have been used by executives at some of the biggest companies in corporate America, including Intel Corp. and Sears, Roebuck & Co.
In 2002, President Bush honored Drucker with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Business Week magazine hailed him as "the most enduring management thinker of our time," and Forbes magazine featured him on a 1997 cover under the headline: "Still the Youngest Mind." He has been called "the world's foremost pioneer of management theory" and a champion of concepts such as management by objective and decentralization.
In the early 1940s, General Motors invited Drucker to study its inner workings. That experience led to his 1946 management book "Concept of the Corporation." He went on to write more than 30 books.
"He's very much an intellectual leader, and that's not common," said D. Quinn Mills, a professor at Harvard Business School who shared the podium at several conferences with Drucker. Quinn described Drucker's insights as rare.
After the big stock market decline of October 1987, Drucker said he had expected it, "and not for economic reasons, but for aesthetic and moral reasons."
"The last two years were just too disgusting a spectacle," Drucker said. "Pigs gorging themselves at the trough are always a disgusting spectacle, and you know it won't last long."
Drucker termed Wall Street brokers "a totally non-productive crowd which is out for a lot of easy money."
"When you reach the point where the traders make more money than investors, you know it's not going to last," he said.
"The average duration of a soap bubble is known. It's about 26 seconds," Drucker said. "Then the surface tension becomes too great and it begins to burst.
"For speculative crazes, it's about 18 months."
Drucker was born in Vienna, and educated there and in England. He received a doctorate in international law while working as a newspaper reporter in Frankfurt, Germany. He remained in Germany until 1933, when one of his essays was banned by the Nazi regime. For a time, he worked as an economist for a bank in London, then moved to the United States in 1937.
He taught politics and philosophy at Bennington College in Vermont and for more than 20 years was a professor of management at New York University's graduate business school.
Beginning in 1971, he taught a course for midcareer executives at Claremont Graduate School in California, which named its business school after him.
Drucker's management books included: "The Effective Executive," 1966; "Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices," 1974; and "Managing in a Time of Great Change," 1995. In 2004, he put out "The Daily Drucker: 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done."
He also wrote scores of articles for the academic and popular press, and two novels and a 1979 autobiography, "Adventures of a Bystander."
While much of his career was spent studying employees in the workplace, Drucker also dedicated time to the service sector, founding the New York-based Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, known since 2003 as the Leader to Leader Institute.
Jack Beatty, a senior editor at Atlantic Monthly magazine who wrote the book "The World According to Peter Drucker," described the management guru as "uproariously funny (with) a great rapport. You ask him a question and it can go on for some time."
Drucker is survived by his wife, Doris, and four children.
Peter Drucker, Considered Greatest Management Guru, Dies at 95
Nov. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Peter Drucker, who was considered the greatest management guru and coined such terms as ``management by objective'' and ``knowledge workers,'' has died. He was 95.
Drucker died this morning, Claremont Graduate University said in a statement.
The Austria-born journalist and intellectual taught, wrote and advised companies on management techniques for seven decades, completing his 35th book at age 94. Drucker was celebrated for his clear thinking and engaging analysis, rather than any single theory or research.
His wide-ranging lectures captivated audiences from Japanese executives to U.S. college students, and he was respected if not revered by top executives who sought his counsel. Accolades poured in when Forbes featured Drucker in a 1997 cover story.
``He makes you think,'' Jack Welch, then-chairman of General Electric Co., told the magazine, while Intel co-founder Andrew Grove declared, ``Drucker is a hero of mine. He writes and thinks with exquisite clarity -- a standout among a bunch of muddled fad mongers.''
Drucker had a good eye for things to come. In the early 1950s, he predicted the importance of computers, and in the 1960s, he foresaw Japan's rise as an industrial power. In 1997, he was prescient about a backlash to executive pay, saying, ``In the next economic downturn there will be an outbreak of bitterness and contempt for the super-corporate chieftains who pay themselves millions.''
Informed by History
His analysis was always informed by history, as befit a man who was born when the Hapsburgs still had an empire and Vienna was brimming with some of the most gifted thinkers and achievers in Europe.
Drucker's curiosity, charm, voracious reading and seeming command of subjects as diverse as psychology, Asian art, musicology and British novels made him ``one of the last of the encyclopaedists, contemptuous of the hyperspecialization of modern academia,'' as John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge wrote in ``The Witch Doctors,'' their 1996 book about management gurus.
Drucker, they said, was ``determined to know everything about everything.''
Drucker came to the U.S. in 1937 as a freelance journalist. He had worked briefly in banking and held a Ph.D in international and public law from Frankfurt University. Just two years later, he won acclaim for his first book, ``The End of Economic Man,'' which skewered fascism and was reviewed by Winston Churchill in the Times Literary Supplement in London.
A second book, ``The Future of Industrial Man,'' explored his thesis that large corporations would provide the framework for social change. The book struck a chord at General Motors Corp., where senior executives invited Drucker to study the company's inner workings.
``Concept of the Corporation,'' published in 1946, became one of his most celebrated works and cast the die for his career as a management consultant and lecturer.
Drucker, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1943, taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Bennington College and New York University before joining the faculty of the Claremont Graduate School in California in 1972. The School of Management there took his name in 1987.
In 2004, Drucker was slowed by a broken hip and acute loss of hearing. Still, he continued to write in his unpretentious suburban house in Claremont, which he shared with Doris Schmitz Drucker, his wife of almost 70 years.
He wrote articles for the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal, and he saw his 35th book published. ``The Daily Drucker: 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done,'' was co-written with Joseph A. Maciariello, a faculty colleague.
Drucker wasn't always right. In 1949, he wrote that postwar mass production had ``dethroned the ruling groups of bourgeois society itself: the merchants, bankers, capitalists.'' He also predicted, incorrectly, that the nation's financial center would move to Washington from New York.
The Wall Street Journal researched several of his lectures in 1987 and reported that some of his anecdotes were factually flawed. As an example, Drucker was incorrect when he told an audience that English is the official language for all employees at Japan's Mitsui trading company.
When the Journal asked Drucker about its findings, he replied, ``I use anecdotes to make a point, not to write history.''
Son of Intellectuals
Peter Ferdinand Drucker was born in Vienna on Nov. 19, 1909, to Caroline and Adolph Bertram Drucker, a well-educated couple whose circle included the city's leading intellectuals, artists, musicians and professionals.
Drucker's mother held a medical degree and his father was an economist and lawyer who, for many years, was a senior civil servant at the Austrian Ministry of Economics. They lived in a stylish duplex home in a Vienna suburb, where Peter Drucker and his younger brother Gerhart could see the Vienna Woods from their bedroom windows.
Adolph Drucker routinely invited economists and civil servants to a dinner party on Mondays, while his wife hosted a medical dinner later in the week. Other dinners focused on physics, mathematics and music.
Peter Drucker's paternal grandmother was an accomplished pianist who had played for Johannes Brahms as a girl, and much later, for Mahler at a charity concert.
In his 1978 memoir, ``Adventures of a Bystander,'' Drucker wrote about the teachers and intellectuals who influenced him in his younger years. He devoted one chapter to Sigmund Freud, who was an older acquaintance of his parents.
Bored in School
Classroom instruction paled in comparison to Drucker's interesting home life. Drucker claimed he encountered only two first-rate teachers, and those were sisters who taught fourth grade. One taught him to set goals and organize, while the other inspired children with warmth and laughter and taught her privileged pupils -- boys and girls alike -- to sew, pound nails and saw wood, which was unorthodox instruction at the time.
Drucker skipped fifth grade to become the youngest student in the entering class of the local Gymnasium, but he found Latin recitations and the teachers deadly dull.
Later, he said he learned to teach himself, relying on the methods and joy he experienced in fourth grade. By the time he was 14, he was determined to skip college and leave Austria, which he found depressingly mired in the past.
``I would be an adult among adults-I had never liked being young, and detested the company of delayed adolescents as I thought most college students to be,'' Drucker wrote in his memoir. ``I would earn a living and be financially independent.''
Off to Germany
Drucker found a job as a trainee in an export firm in Hamburg in 1927. He appeased his father by enrolling at Hamburg University, but discovered that there were no evening classes he could attend. Instead, he spent many hours reading in the city library, and also managed to publish two papers, including one that predicted in September 1929 that the New York stock market would continue to soar.
When the crash occurred weeks later, Drucker said he learned his lesson and never again predicted the stock markets' movement.
The Great Crash also eliminated the job he had just secured in Frankfort to train to become a security analyst. But he was soon hired as a financial reporter at the Frankfurter General- Anzeiger, a lively afternoon paper that his wife later described as ``middlebrow.''
Promotions came quickly, in part because World War I had decimated the ranks of able-bodied men who would have preceded him. Drucker became the senior editor in charge of foreign and economic news in 1931, the same year he completed a doctorate in international and public law at Frankfurt University.
Drucker also did some substitute teaching for a law professor, and met his future wife, Doris Schmidt, in one of those classes.
Drucker had vowed in 1932 to leave Germany if Hitler came to power. He acted on that promise in early 1933 after he watched a Nazi official take over a university faculty meeting to fire Jewish professors and bar them from the campus. Drucker was sickened by most colleagues' timidity, and he resigned from his newspaper, even though a Nazi party representative offered to promote him.
Drucker moved to London, where he eventually was hired as an executive secretary to the partners of a merchant bank. Shortly after his arrival, he recognized Doris Schmidt in the Piccadilly Underground station and called to her as the two rode escalators moving in opposite directions.
She had moved to London because of the futility of pursuing a law degree in Frankfurt, due to her Jewish ancestry. The two resumed their friendship.
``Both of us were lonely in an essentially xenophobic environment,'' Doris Drucker wrote in her 2004 memoir entitled ``Invent Radium or I'll Pull Your Hair.'' ``We were in despair over the worsening situation in Germany -- and frightened by the apathy and the unwillingness of the British to see through Hitler's dangerous game plan.''
The friendship turned into romance even amid the initial opposition of their mothers. Doris Schmidt's mother was fiercely ambitious for her daughter, and wanted her to match the accomplishments of a Madame Curie, ideally marrying a Rothschild along the way. Drucker's mother preferred a wealthy Englishwoman as a prospective daughter-in-law over a penniless German.
According to her memoir, the courtship stretched over four years because marriage would have cost Doris her job. During the Depression, working women in Great Britain were routinely fired if they married, with the idea that the jobs might go to unemployed men.
On to America
Discouraged by the British appeasement of Hitler, and eager to wed, the two finally married on Jan. 16, 1937, and set sail for New York.
Their first-class passage was a wedding gift from Drucker's merchant bank employers. Before his departure, Drucker arranged to work as a freelance writer for a group of British newspapers, and he also agreed to serve as a U.S. adviser to some British investors.
The newlyweds settled in the New York suburb of Bronxville, where Drucker wrote his first two books. His wife gave birth to a daughter, Kathleen Romola, and son, Vincent. Two other daughters, Cecily Anne and Joan Agatha, would follow.
Drucker taught economics and statistics one day a week at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville. In 1942, he accepted a fulltime appointment at Bennington College in Vermont because he was offered the freedom ``to teach whatever subjects I thought I needed learning in: political theory and American government, American history and economic history, philosophy and religion,'' as Drucker wrote in ``Adventures of a Bystander.''
Bennington also gave him the freedom to work as a consultant and to spend two years on his research at General Motors. In their memoirs, both Drucker and his wife spoke fondly of Vermont, where they lived for seven years.
The family moved to Montclair, New Jersey, when Drucker was offered a teaching job at Columbia University in 1949. That job fell through, but a chance encounter with an old friend led to an offer to become a professor of management at New York University's fledgling Graduate School of Management.
Drucker taught there for more than 20 years until he relocated to California in 1972.
Throughout his career, Drucker made a point of working with charities and non-profit institutions, such as the Girl Scouts of America, hospitals, churches and universities, because he believed that good management is vital to all aspects of life. The Wall Street Journal reported that by 1987, Drucker was devoting half of his consulting hours without charge.
Survivors include his wife, Doris, four children and six grandchildren.
Obituary - Peter Drucker
By Simon London
Published: November 11 2005 22:41 | Last updated: November 11 2005 22:41
Peter Drucker, who has died at the age of 95, hated being labelled as a “guru”. But that is what he was for thousands, probably millions, of managers. Never mind that the dictionary definitions of the word range from “venerable” and “weighty” to “mediator of divine truth.” To Drucker, guru was synonymous with “charlatan”. He preferred to be known, he often said, as “just an old journalist”.
As so often in his life, he was indulging not so much in false modesty as in good-humoured self-mockery. For he was manifestly very much more than that.
To his many admirers, in Asia almost as much as his native Europe (he was born in Vienna) and his adoptive United States, he was the grand old man of provocative theory and thoughtful practice. He could always be relied upon to provide a helping hand through the latest trends in politics, society, economics, and especially business.
For people whose only exposure to his work was a single article or speech, his constant use of the quick insight, the aphorism, the analogy and the metaphor sometimes created an impression of glibness. But Drucker saw this as an occupational hazard of communicating clearly about complex issues.
From his early writing days as a journalist in the 1930s to the very last years of his life, with several professorships and three dozen respected books behind him, he continued to believe that the best ideas have to be simplified, often to the limit, in order to be effective. When criticised in the 1980s for writing a cursory newspaper article about “the five rules of successful acquisitions”, he grinned ruefully and pronounced in typically gnomic Drucker-ese: “My best ideas have only one moving part.”
That hardly did justice to the erudition and sense of perspective which underpinned his commentary. His cool, deliberate analysis whether of “pork-barrel” politics, post-communist economics, or a range of management topics from leadership to productivity, motivation to marketing was peppered with a constant flow of vivid references and parallels drawn from history, and from fields as diverse as medicine, music, even the nursery.
Talking about the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation which occupied him powerfully in his later years, along with the growth of what he called “knowledge work” and management's wider role in society he revelled in such observations as “for the first four years, no new enterprise produces profits. Even Mozart didn't start writing music until he was four”.
Such bon mots were often more scurrilous, as in his remark that Friedrich Engels might never have made his seminal observations of the British working class if his sexual behaviour had not so scandalised his parents that they sent him out of his native Germany. Told in Drucker's strongly accented English, such stories produced a mixture of hilarity and wonder in his audiences.
He was certainly “one of the last encyclopaedics”, as he was introduced at a conference a few years ago. His knowledge reached far beyond the world of affairs, deeply into literature, biology and even Oriental art in which he was recognised as an authority even by the Japanese.
One of the most thoughtful analysts of Drucker's contribution to management, Alan Kantrow, says that “many of his ideas have become part and parcel of today's commonsense understanding of business. He had a pervasive influence.” Though by no means all his ideas were original, Drucker's real value, says Kantrow, lay in the rigour with which they were formulated. “One could learn more and more deeply from watching him think than from studying the content of his thought.”
For decades, many managers did just that. Whether they worked for Shell, Gillette, a British bank, a German engineering company, a large hospital complex, or a medium-sized shipping company, they paid repeat visits to sit at his feet, or buy his latest book. One such executive talked of needing his “Drucker fix” every two or three years.
Drucker's reputation, among many practitioners and theorists alike, as the father of post-war management went back to two of his early works, “Concept of the Corporation” in 1946, and “The Practice of Management” in 1954.
The former, a study of the workings of General Motors, was the first detailed account of the way a large company operated. The latter contained pathfinding work on such varied topics as the key role of marketing; the importance of clear objectives, both for the corporation and for the manager; and the need to balance long-term strategy and innovation against short-term performance.
This early work laid the foundation for such basic principles of modern business as asking: “What business are we in, and who are our customers?” It dealt with the recruitment and development of executives, the proper role of boards of directors, the defence of profits as an essential foundation of future survival, and the development of the responsible and productive worker.
Only on the last of these counts did Drucker's principles fail to be translated into practice. In a mid-1980s interview he called this “my most conspicuous failure”, grumbling that “only now that Japan has shown the way is it being taken seriously” in Europe and the US.
It was Drucker's ability to examine complex issues in depth, while also relating them to each other, that had such a strong influence on the study of management. Yet this landed him in bad odour with most business academics. “He is vastly undervalued by most academics”, Tom Peters, the management writer and Drucker disciple, said a few years ago. In several years at Stanford University, first as a masters student and then as a doctoral candidate, Peters found that “Drucker wasn't mentioned once. None of his work was on our reading lists”.
Things were little better at Harvard. Even though it offered him a professorship four times, Drucker chose instead to take up appointments at lesser institutions. Nor does Drucker rate much of a mention in most histories of management thought. All that is in spite of the fact that, as Peters puts it, “Drucker was the first to provide an intellectual framework to analyse the corporation”.
Drucker's own explanation of his relations with academia was revealing, not only of his own character and that of the university system, but of the nature of high-class gurudom. “Earlier theorists wrote only for a small circle their jargon was often impenetrable,' he said.
“I put together the bits and pieces of the jigsaw, including what was missing, such as the role of top management, strategy, management-by-objectives, entrepreneurship and innovation. I went to work on it and built a discipline. But I have a deep horror of obscurity and arrogance, so I presented it in a form that people could apply. I don't believe in specialisation, and academia has always resented that.”
In the words of Tom Peters: “Drucker effectively by-passed the intellectual establishment. So it's not surprising that they hated his guts.”
With the passing of the years, however, relations became a little less strained. Unlike most of the previous generation, several of the top business academics who came to prominance in the 1980s and 90s paid tribute to Drucker's impact on their own work. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, of Yale and then Harvard, admitted to having been influenced heavily by Drucker's early writings and praised his “remarkable” sense of being able to foretell the future.
Yet not everyone agreed. Despite Drucker's protestations about the importance of small business, he remained identifed with the notion that the large corporation was the centre-piece of society. And, right to the end of his life, he was typecast as having an excessively rational view of the management process.
Moreover, despite his praise ever since 1954 for Douglas McGregor's “Theory Y”, Drucker did not seem to fit comfortably into the school of enlightened motivation, which blossomed into management theories of worker 'empowerment'. He tended to use tell-tale phrases such as “the basic task of management is to make (our italics) people productive”. Peters, Moss Kanter et al would prefer the verb “encourage”. In the words of one long-standing student of Drucker's writing, “he was always a bit too top-down”.
In one sense, Drucker could be accused of having lost something of his intellectual vitality in his earlier years. Today's business community is searching for more advice on how to stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation, and how to manage joint ventures and strategic alliances. Drucker was writing about such issues extensively right up to his death, yet his basic view, expressed several years ago, was “we already know how to do all that just organise yourself properly”.
Right across the management spectrum, he claimed, “the academic work that's being done is on perfecting things it's variations on themes we all discovered some time ago”. Business studies had therefore entered a long and rather sterile period, he argued. The main exception to this view of the rather arid future of management studies concerned management as a social function. “We have become a society of organisations,” he used to say, in what became a familiar Druckerism. “Yet who takes care of the public good?”
The need for much better management extended not only to private enterprise, he argued, but also to the public sector and, much more broadly, to the body politic itself. In a memorable phrase, he said “politics has become the theatre of the absurd, with politicians declaiming in front of an empty audience, just like the Comédie Française. There's a new pluralism in society that we don't understand but that we have to make work”.
In his last few years, Drucker felt increasingly in common, to some extent, with Britain's Charles Handy that the major new challenges for management lie well beyond its commonly accepted field of operations. In the process of developing into “the distinct organ of our society” over the past 50 years, management had become intricately bound up with political, legal and social issues. It had, in other words, become “affected with the public interest”. To work out what that implied, for both theory and practice, would constitute the prime management agenda of the next 50 years, he forecast.
Peter Drucker might have ended his life a little weary of the “old” issues, as he saw them, but, half a century after his first breakthrough into management, he was still extending its boundaries with his customary energy and clarity of mind.
November 12, 2005
Peter F. Drucker, a Pioneer in Social and Management Theory, Is Dead at 95
By BARNABY J. FEDER
Peter F. Drucker, the political economist and author, whose view that big business and nonprofit enterprises were the defining innovation of the 20th century led him to pioneering social and management theories, died yesterday at his home in Claremont, Calif. He was 95.
His death was announced by Claremont Graduate University.
Mr. Drucker thought of himself, first and foremost, as a writer and teacher, though he eventually settled on the term "social ecologist." He became internationally renowned for urging corporate leaders to agree with subordinates on objectives and goals and then get out of the way of decisions about how to achieve them.
He challenged both business and labor leaders to search for ways to give workers more control over their work environment. He also argued that governments should turn many functions over to private enterprise and urged organizing in teams to exploit the rise of a technology-astute class of "knowledge workers."
Mr. Drucker staunchly defended the need for businesses to be profitable but he preached that employees were a resource, not a cost. His constant focus on the human impact of management decisions did not always appeal to executives, but they could not help noticing how it helped him foresee many major trends in business and politics.
He began talking about such practices in the 1940's and 50's, decades before they became so widespread that they were taken for common sense. Mr. Drucker also foresaw that the 1970's would be a decade of inflation, that Japanese manufacturers would become major competitors for the United States and that union power would decline.
For all his insights, he clearly owed much of his impact to his extraordinary energy and skills as a communicator. But while Mr. Drucker loved dazzling audiences with his wit and wisdom, his goal was not to be known as an oracle. Indeed, after writing a rosy-eyed article shortly before the stock market crash of 1929 in which he outlined why stocks prices would rise, he pledged to himself to stay away from gratuitous predictions. Instead, his views about where the world was headed generally arose out of advocacy for what he saw as moral action.
His first book ("The End of Economic Man," 1939)was intended to strengthen the will of the free world to fight fascism. His later economic and social predictions were intended to encourage businesses and social groups to organize in ways that he felt would promote human dignity and vaccinate society against political and economic chaos.
"He is remarkable for his social imagination, not his futurism," said Jack Beatty in a 1998 review of Mr. Drucker's work "The World According to Peter Drucker."
Mr. Drucker, who was born in Vienna and never completely shed his Austrian accent, worked in Germany as a reporter until Hitler rose to power and then in a London investment firm before emigrating to the United States in 1937. He became an American citizen in 1943.
Recalling the disasters that overran the Europe of his youth and watching the American response left him convinced that good managers were the true heroes of the century.
The world, especially the developed world, had recovered from repeated catastrophe because "ordinary people, people running the everyday concerns of business and institutions, took responsibility and kept on building for tomorrow while around them the world came crashing down," he wrote in 1986 in "The Frontiers of Management."
Mr. Drucker never hesitated to make suggestions he knew would be viewed as radical. He advocated legalization of drugs and stimulating innovation by permitting new ventures to charge the government for the cost of regulations and paperwork. He was not surprised that General Motors for years ignored nearly every recommendation in "The Concept of the Corporation," the book he published in 1946 after an 18-month study of G.M. that its own executives had commissioned.
From his early 20's to his death, Mr. Drucker held various teaching posts, including a 20-year stint at the Stern School of Management at New York University and, since 1971, a chair at the Claremont Graduate School of Management. He also consulted widely, devoting several days a month to such work into his 90's. His clients included G.M., General Electric and Sears, Roebuck but also the Archdiocese of New York and several Protestant churches; government agencies in the United States, Canada and Japan; universities; and entrepreneurs.
For over 50 years, at least half of the consulting work was done free for nonprofits and small businesses. As his career progressed and it became clearer that competitive pressures were keeping businesses from embracing many practices he advocated, like guaranteed wages and lifetime employment for industrial workers, he became increasingly interested in "the social sector," as he called the nonprofit groups.
Mr. Drucker counseled groups like the Girl Scouts to think like businesses even though their bottom line was "changed lives" rather than profits. He warned them that donors would increasingly judge them on results rather than intentions. In 1990, Frances Hesselbein, the former national director of the Girl Scouts, organized a group of admirers to honor him by setting up the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management in New York to expose nonprofits to Mr. Drucker's thinking and to new concepts in management.
Mr. Drucker's greatest impact came from his writing. His more than 30 books, which have sold tens of millions of copies in more than 30 languages, came on top of thousands of articles, including a monthly op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal from 1975 to 1995.
Among the sayings of Chairman Peter, as he was sometimes called, were these:
¶"Marketing is a fashionable term. The sales manager becomes a marketing vice president. But a gravedigger is still a gravedigger even when it is called a mortician - only the price of the burial goes up."
¶"One either meets or one works."
¶"The only things that evolve by themselves in an organization are disorder, friction and malperformance."
¶"Stock option plans reward the executive for doing the wrong thing. Instead of asking, 'Are we making the right decision?' he asks, 'How did we close today?' It is encouragement to loot the corporation."
Mr. Drucker's thirst for new experiences never waned. He became so fascinated with Japanese art during his trips to Japan after World War II that he eventually helped write "Adventures of the Brush: Japanese Paintings" (1979), and lectured on Oriental art at Pomona College in Claremont from 1975 to 1985.
Peter Ferdinand Drucker was born Nov. 19, 1909, one of two sons of Caroline and Adolph Drucker, a prominent lawyer and high-ranking civil servant in the Austro-Hungarian government. He left Vienna in 1927 to work for an export firm in Hamburg, Germany, and to study law.
Mr. Drucker then moved to Frankfurt, where he earned a doctorate in international and public law in 1931 from the University of Frankfurt, became a reporter and then senior editor in charge of financial and foreign news at the newspaper General-Anzeiger, and, while substitute teaching at the university, met Doris Schmitz, a 19-year-old student. They became reacquainted after waving madly while passing each other going opposite directions on a London subway escalator in 1933 and were married in 1937.
Mr. Drucker had moved to England to work as a securities analyst and writer after watching the rise of the Nazis with increasing alarm. In England, he took an economics course from John Maynard Keynes in Cambridge, but was put off by how much the talk centered on commodities rather than people.
Mr. Drucker's reputation as a political economist was firmly established with the publication in 1939 of "The End of Economic Man." The New York Times said it brought a "remarkable vision and freshness" to the understanding of fascism. The book's observations, along with those in articles he wrote for Harpers and The New Republic, caught the eye of policy makers in the federal government and at corporations as the country prepared for war, and landed him a job teaching at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.
Writing "The Future of Industrial Man," published in 1942 after Mr. Drucker moved to Bennington College in Vermont, convinced him that he needed to understand big organizations from the inside. Rebuffed in his requests to work with several major companies, he was delighted when General Motors called in late 1943 proposing that he study its structure and policies. To avoid having him treated like a management spy, G.M. agreed to let him publish his findings.
Neither G.M. nor Mr. Drucker expected the public to be interested because no one had ever written such a management profile, but "The Concept of the Corporation" became an overnight sensation when it was published in 1946. " 'Concept of the Corporation' is a book about business the way 'Moby Dick' is a book about whaling," said Mr. Beatty, referring to the focus on social issues extending far beyond G.M.'s immediate operating challenges.
In it, Mr. Drucker argued that profitability was crucial to a business's health but more importantly to full employment. Management could achieve sustainable profits only by treating employees like valuable resources. That, he argued, required decentralizing the power to make decisions, including giving hourly workers more control over factory life, and guaranteed wages.
In the 1950's, Mr. Drucker began proclaiming that democratic governments had become too big to function effectively. This, he said, was a threat to the freedom of their citizens and to their economic well-being.
Unlike many conservative thinkers, Mr. Drucker wanted to keep government regulation over areas like food and drugs and finance. Indeed, he argued that the rise of global businesses required stronger governments and stronger social institutions, including more powerful unions, to keep them from forgetting social interests.
According to Claremont Graduate University, Mr. Drucker's survivors include his wife, Doris, an inventor and physicist; his children, Audrey Drucker of Puyallup, Wash., Cecily Drucker of San Francisco, Joan Weinstein of Chicago, and Vincent Drucker of San Rafael, Calif.; and six grandchildren.
Early last year, in an interview with Forbes magazine, Mr. Drucker was asked if there was anything in his long career that he wished he had done but had not been able to do.
"Yes, quite a few things," he said. "There are many books I could have written that are better than the ones I actually wrote. My best book would have been "Managing Ignorance," and I'm very sorry I didn't write it."
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company