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Biography of Peter F. Drucker


1. The Orbit of the Guru

Peter F. Drucker, the “Father of Modern Management” and the pioneer of the modern management discipline, is regarded as the “Guru of Gurus” in the academic world.

His thinking is practical, scientific and visional, and his contribution to modern management is highly recognized worldwide.


Peter Drucker was born in Vienna, Austria on November 19th in 1909. His father was an Austrian financial official who also founded the Salzburg Festival. His mother was one of the first women who went to medical school in Austria. Good family education and strong cultural atmosphere had a deep impact on Drucker's life.

In 1931, Drucker received his Doctorate degree of Public and International Law at Frankfurt University in Germany.

In 1937, opposing to the Nazi regime, Drucker and his family migrated to the United States. He worked as Economist and Management Consultant in banks, insurance companies and multinational corporations. He became an American citizen in 1943. For more than 20 years, he was professor of Philosophy and Political Science at Bennington College and professor of Management at the Graduate School of Management at New York University. Despite being hailed as the "Father of Modern Management", Drucker humbly considered himself a writer and a teacher.

In 1939, Drucker's first book "The End of Economic Man" was published. This book was recommended by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the officers in his Cabinet.

In 1942, Drucker was appointed as a consultant of General Motors, then the world's largest enterprise, to conduct an in-depth study of its internal management structure. Four years later, he published the book "Concept of the Corporation". For the first time, he put forward the principle of decentralization and laid the foundation for management of organization.

In 1954, "The Practice of Management" was published. In this book the epoch making concepts of "Management by Objectives", "Self-Control" and the classic Three W’s were first introduced. This book marked the birth of management as a discipline, and established the status of Drucker being the “Father of Modern Management”.

In 1966, "The Effective Executive" was published. This book first stated that in today's knowledge society, not only those who manage others can be called executives; the knowledge workers themselves are also executives. Executives should perform effectively. The book has become a classical literature for senior managers for half a century. It has an enormous impact on modern management and the business community.

Mr. Zhang Rui Min, Board Chairman and CEO of Haier Group, wrote in the preface for Chinese edition of “The Effective Executive”, “I love reading ‘The Effective Executive’ over and over again. Every time I find it refreshing and inspiring, especially when facing the unpredictable markets and the confusion brought by globalization."

In 1973, Drucker's masterpiece "Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices" was published. This is a systematic Management handbook for business executives, as well as a Management textbook for students. It tells executives that it is Management that should be put into practice, rather than Economics, Quantitative Analysis nor Behavioral Science. This book is viewed as the "Bible of Management."

In 1982, "Managing in Turbulent Times," was published. This book discusses a number of issues related to executives, including their changing roles, their tasks and missions, their problems and opportunities, as well as their development trends.

In 1985, "Innovation and Entrepreneurship" was published. This book is considered to be Drucker's most important writing after "The Practice of Management". It stresses that we have already moved from "Management Economy" to "Innovation Economy."

In 1999, "Management Challenges for the 21st Century" was published. Drucker clearly defined the "New Economy" challenge is to increase productivity of knowledge worker.

2. Contribution of the Guru

Drucker was the first person to introduce the "Management" concept. In today's world there is no other thinker who can better guide the way: in the early 1950s, Drucker pointed out that computers would change the entire business environment; in 1961, he reminded that the United States should pay close attention to the rise of Japanese industry; 20 years later, he alerted the East Asian countries the risk of stagflation; in the 1990s, he was the first to introduce and explain the concept of "Knowledge Economy".

Drucker never stopped teaching nor writing books. He taught at the Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University from 1971 onwards. To honor his outstanding contributions in the field of management, the Graduate School of Management has been named after him. In 1990, to improve the performance of nonprofit organizations, Ms. Frances Hesselbein and others established the Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management in the US. For almost two decades, the Foundation has honored numerous outstanding nonprofit organizations, held seminars, and published teaching materials, books and a variety of publications, and has brought about an enormous impact on the US society.

Drucker has published over 30 books, which have been translated into more than 30 languages and distributed to more than 130 countries. These books have been very popular even in the countries like the former Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia and the Czech Republic. His highly reputed innovative concepts and management principles include: Make Management an academic discipline; Management By Objective and Self-Control are management philosophies; Organizations exist to create and satisfy customers; Marketing and innovation are the basic functions of an enterprise; Executives' effectiveness is more important than their efficiency.

The rise of decentralization, privatization and knowledge workers; Knowledge and information become the keystone of a society. Drucker still had his new book published in 2004 at the age of 94.

On June 20, 2002, the President of the United States presented Drucker with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was the highest civilian honor awarded to U.S. citizens

3. The Everlasting Drucker

On November 11, 2005, Drucker passed away at home in Claremont, California, at the age of 95.

"If the world really has the so-called guru's guru, that person's name must be Peter Drucker." Many world-renowned business leaders, including Intel's Co-Founder Andrew Grove, Microsoft's Chairman Bill Gates, General Electric former CEO Jack Welch, have been inspired or influenced by Drucker's management philosophy.

Drucker in his book "Adventures of a Bystander" recollected the people who had significantly influenced him. In his early years, Drucker met intellects like Joseph Alois Schumpeter and Sigmund Freud who greatly influenced his thinking. He went through two world wars and engaged in various professions - reporter, financial analyst, writer, consultant, and university professor. Abundant life experience, profound knowledge, and a strong sense of social responsibility made him a great philosopher, and led him to the lofty status in management.

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