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Peter Drucker, 1909-2005: A Thinker for Business Leaders

I’m Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Economics Report.

Peter Drucker was a voice for change and new ways of thinking about social and business relations. He died in Claremont, California, on November eleventh at the age of ninety-five.

Peter Drucker was born in Austria in nineteen-oh-nine. In the late nineteen twenties, he worked as a reporter in Frankfurt, Germany. He also studied international law.

He fled Germany as Adolf Hitler came to power in nineteen thirty-three. Peter Drucker spent four years in Britain as an adviser to investment banks. He then came to the United States.

Mister Drucker used his knowledge of international law to advise American businesses. He developed this advice into books on business methods and management.

In the middle of the nineteen forties, Peter Drucker argued that the desire for profit was central to business efforts. He also warned that rising wages were harming American business.

Mister Drucker was later invited to study General Motors. He wrote about his experiences in the book “The Concept of the Corporation.” In it, he said that workers at all levels should take part in decision-making, not just top managers.

Critics of Peter Drucker have said that he often included only information that supported his arguments. But even his critics praised his clear reasoning and simple writing. He was called a management guru.

Peter Drucker changed his thinking as times changed. In nineteen ninety-three, he warned that seeking too much profit helped a business’ competitors. That was almost fifty years after he had argued the importance of profits.

Mister Drucker taught at the Claremont Graduate School of Management for more than thirty years. He also advised companies. And he wrote for the Wall Street Journal opinion page for twenty years, until nineteen ninety-five. He commented on many economic and management issues.

Peter Drucker may be most famous not for answering questions but for asking them. He once said that business people must ask themselves not “what do we want to sell?” but “what do people want to buy?”

Mister Drucker used terms like “knowledge workers” and “management goals.” Many of his ideas have grown to be highly valued in business training and politics.

This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. Our reports are online at I'm Steve Ember.