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Drucker on Management as a Liberal Art

Here is the Drucker’s discourse on Management as a Liberal Art:


Management is regarded as a Discipline, instead of a branch of Science (at least not according to the definition of Science in modern sense). Medicine is a Discipline, it’s a practical technical skill, and derived from different branches of Science. Medicine is derived from Biology, Chemistry, Physics and other branches of natural science. Having the same nature as Medicine, Management is derived from various branches of science like Economics, Psychology, Political Science, History, Philosophy, etc.


At the same time, Management is an independent Discipline that has its own system of assumptions, objectives, tools, methods of performance measurement. Although Management is an independent Discipline, it is called “Geisteswissenschaft” in German, and “Moral Science” would be the appropriate translation for this difficult term. In fact, the older term “Liberal Art” is the best interpretation of this German term.


Management is derived from and the consolidation of the findings of research from different fields. Management is not about “Knowing”, but “doing”. Therefore, Management is actually a practical technical skill, which is concerned about action and application, and its workability is tested by its own results.


However, Management is also concerned about people, values of people, as well as growth and development of people. At the same time, because of the effect of Management on society and social structure, which induce the Management to outreach to the spiritual question- are human naturally good or bad?


Management was considered to be a Liberal Art in the past, the reason for being regarded as “Liberal” is that Management outstretches to knowledge, and basics of humanity such as self-recognition, wisdom and leadership; Management is also classified as Arts because it is about practice and application.  All leaders have to make use of the knowledge acquired from human science and social science, such as Psychology, Philosophy, Economics, History, Natural Science and Ethics. However, leaders must focus on the positive outcomes brought about by Management -

focus on how the knowledge of Management can be applied on curing the patients, guiding the students, building the bridge for communication, designing and marketing of user-friendly software.


Drucker stressed that he has created the Management as an independent Discipline, and conduct the research of Management based on relation between human and power, system of value, structure and methods. Drucker stated that Responsibility is the utmost core value of Management, and thus Management should be regarded as a Liberal Art.





Drucker interpreted Management as a Liberal Art because he has introduced Human Dimension and Values into Management, and such actions is considered to be one of the greatest contributions that Drucker had made to the modern Management.


Since Management is about human being, thus Management stems from all branches of science that is related to Human, including History, Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, Political Science, Natural Science and Social Science, while it stands alone as an independent Discipline. As a result, all management executives should treat Management as a Discipline that is board and profound, this characteristics of Management explains why Management is “Liberal” by nature.


On the other hand, since Management is consist of practical technical skills, it is not just sets of conceptual theories; which compels the management executive to make use of all sets of assumption, objectives, tools, and methods of performance measurement, etc. when they apply Management theories at work. As a result, objectives of Management is the pursuit of results and achievements, this is the “Arts” aspect of Management by nature.


Professor Huang Jian Dong

Vice-Dean of Beijing Peter F. Drucker Academy

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