The relevance of management to society: Peter Drucker's oeuvre from the 1940s and the 1950s

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to assess the relevance of the writings of Peter Drucker (1909-2005) from the 1940s and 1950s, with particular reference to The Practice of Management (1954).
Design/methodology/approach: Drucker’s contribution to management writing from the 1940s and 1950s is examined via a liberal humanist perspective, which is to suggest that he attempted to develop an educated imagination in his readers.
Findings: Drucker highlights the vital role of business in society, a theme embedded in current debates of how business corporations should balance economic and social goals. The US model of capitalism following the end of World War II underlies Drucker’s writings, and also results in areas of deficiency.
Research limitations/implications: The paper is limited to examining Drucker’s writings. Future research can include how Drucker can be read by students not studying management.
Practical implications: Current debates on the role of the business corporation and who it should serve would benefit from Drucker’s insights on management as social system with multiple stakeholders.
Originality: Though well-known as a management thinker, Drucker is also a marginalized by many academics hence outside the reading lists of many business and management students. This paper seeks to assert Drucker as a public intellectual who has addressed the role of the business corporation in society, which is central to current debates on the future of capitalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-72
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Management History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Peter Drucker
  • Management Education
  • Liberal Humanism
  • 1940s and 1950s
  • Capitalism and Society

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