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Peter Drucker, 1909-2005: The Mind of a Management Thinker

He was a voice for change and new ways of thinking about social and business relations. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

We talked last week about Joseph Juran, an influential American expert in quality control. He died earlier this year at the age of one hundred and three.

Today we talk about another management expert -- or guru as people like to call them. Peter Drucker also lived a long life. He was ninety-five years old when he died in two thousand five.

Peter Drucker was an expert on the ways of modern organizations. He liked to share his knowledge not by answering questions but by asking them. For example, he said business people must ask themselves not "What do we want to sell?" but "What do people want to buy?"

He taught at the Claremont Graduate School of Management in California 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 was born in Austria. He worked as a reporter in Frankfurt, Germany, in the late nineteen twenties. 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.

He 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.

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

Peter Drucker was a voice for change and new ways of thinking about social and business relations. He used terms like "knowledge workers" and "management goals." He influenced business training and politics with many of his ideas.

Some people said he often only presented information that supported his arguments. But even his critics praised his clear reasoning.

Yet as times changed, so did his thinking. In nineteen ninety-three, he warned that businesses create a market for competitors when they think too much about high profits.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports are at I'm Steve Ember.