Managing in the Next Society

Philip R. Harris (Harris International Ltd, La Jolla, California, USA)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 1 August 2004



Harris, P.R. (2004), "Managing in the Next Society", European Business Review, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 426-427.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The guru of management consultants and authors has done it again! World‐class thinker, Peter F. Drucker, has just authored his 33rd book at 93 years of age, giving this reviewer hope that at only 76, I may have many more works still to be published! For over 50 years, Drucker, an Austrian by birth, has been turning out insightful volumes on not only management and leadership, but economics, political theory, and society. With Managing in the Next Society, this astute social commentator may be making his greatest contribution as a prophet of where modern civilization is heading, and how we can influence the direction. The cosmopolitan author has lived long enough to share wise observations, historical perspective, and counsel on critical issues arising in the twenty‐first century.

Managing in the Next Society is chock full of intellectual nuggets, such as that electronic commerce via the Internet may become the major worldwide distribution channel for goods and services, as well as for managerial and professional jobs. But Drucker envisions information technology as one among many emerging institutions, theories, ideologies, technologies, and problems that are altering global cultures. Actually this work is a collection of essays, previously published, which have been organized within a four‐part format centered around “The information society”, “Business opportunities”, “The changing world economy” and “The next society”. The 15 chapters represent very readable, pithy, and mind‐stretching content that should be analyzed carefully not only by would‐be global leaders and managers, but by professors and their students.

The seminal thinking ranges through new mindsets and mental geography of the knowledge society, to astute comments about about developing transnational organizational changes relative to: cost centers, outsourcing, social entrepreneurship, plualism and autonomy, workforce and market splitting, knowledge technologies, corporate assumptions, etc. However, it is in the last chapter that this distinguished professor from Claremont Graduate School reserves his forecasts about the new society, addressing such topics as alterations coming in demographics, workforces, manufacturing, organizational transformation, the future of top management. However, this quote from the last section best summarizes the author's key message:

The next society will be a knowledge society. Knowledge will be the resource, and knowledge workers will be the dominant group in the workforce … In future there will be two workforces made up of the under‐fifties and the over‐fifties respectively. These two workforces are likely to differ markedly in their needs and behaviors, and in the jobs they do … In a transnational company, there is only one economic unit – the world. Selling, servicing, public relations, and and legal affairs are local.

For those who find this reading stimulating, you may wish to review another recent Drucker book in the Butterworth‐Heinemann series, Management Challenges in the 21st Century (

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