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

Derrick Chong (School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Publication date: 4 January 2013



The purpose of this paper is to consider the continuing relevance to management education of the writings of Peter Drucker (1909‐2005) from the 1940s and 1950s, with particular reference to The Practice of Management (1954).


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.


Drucker contributes to current discussions on the role of business in society and the nature of capitalism. His insistence on the business corporation being a social institution and management as a social system with multiple stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is limited to examining Drucker's writings. Future research can include why Drucker has won acclaim outside of the USA (with the rise of Drucker Societies) and why he is absent from many undergraduate and postgraduate reading lists in management education.

Practical implications

The current crisis of capitalism would benefit from Drucker's perspective of the US model of capitalism from the middle of the twentieth century.


Though well‐known as a management thinker, Drucker is also marginalized by many academics, and hence is outside the reading lists of many business and management students. This paper seeks to reclaim territory for Drucker as part of current discussions on the future of capitalism and the role of the business corporation.



Chong, D. (2013), "The relevance of management to society: Peter Drucker's oeuvre from the 1940s and 1950s", Journal of Management History, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 55-72.

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