Why Peter Drucker’s writing still feels so relevant? (Hint: It has to do with history..)

Hermann Simon of HBR reflects on works of Peter Drucker (HT: Niranjan Rajdhyaksha).

Simon wonders what makes it so relevant even till date. Not surprisingly, Drucker considered himself as a historian than a management thinker. Given his work was deeply influenced by history, it remains relevant till date.

In an era of rapid technological and social change, in which new management jargons seem to rise even faster than the disruptive startups that coin them, the career of Peter Drucker is perhaps as instructive as his writings emselves. Why do his writings remain so fresh and vibrant today? How did he avoid both authoring passing fads and jumping on others’ bandwagons?


I once asked Professor Drucker — as I still think of him — whether he considered himself more a historical writer or a management thinker. Without much hesitation, he answered, “more a historical writer.” Drucker’s historical competence cannot, of course, be interpreted “mechanically.” History does not repeat itself, nor does it follow given laws, as Karl Marx or Oswald Spengler have suggested. Nevertheless, it can be said that the human being has changed very little during the known course of history. We gain, therefore, valuable insight when we interpret current developments and the future in light of historical analogies.

This perfectly describes Peter Drucker’s great strength — as well as the most notable weakness of those management authors whose knowledge of history is sporadic and superficial, or totally nonexistent. Drucker possessed a much broader foundation of historical knowledge which set him apart from those who have dubbed themselves specialists of entrepreneurial history, but have only covered a small portion of this field.

Niranjan says economists could learn something from this. Amen to that…




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