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Peter Drucker Dies Aged 95 (11 Nov 2005)
Peter Drucker died, aged 95, on 11 November, 2005 following a highly successful life as one of the most widely respected observers of management throughout the twentieth century. With observations such as "so much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work" and "consultancy is not a corporate investment but rather a corporate indulgence" Peter Drucker became well known for his perceptive observations about how organisations can perform better. His advice was taken not only by big business but also by charities and churches.


Drucker was born in Austria in 19 November, 1909 but was driven by the rise of Nazism to develop his career firstly in London and then in America. A thinker whose early career experience was gained in the worlds of banking, journalism and consultancy he feared for society falling under the barbarian yoke and saw that only efficient management could defeat the threat. It was his conviction that "Management is the organ of institutions . . that converts a mob into an organisation, and human efforts into performance" which informed so much of his thinking.


His work was widely communicated to a worldwide audience through his 39 books, the first significant title being his "The Concept of the Corporation" which was informed by his study of General Motors. Oddly GM management who had given Drucker unrivalled access to its history, was not influenced by the book.


Drucker's most well known management techniques included management by objective; delegation of organisational authority downwards or 'empowerment', and the rising importance of knowledge workers. His moving emphasis over fifty years from the role of centrally set objectives (and the consequent need for command and control) to the delegated innovation of the digital society and the knowledge economy evidenced his deep rooted approach to management as an evolutionary artform rather than a pure science.


Not surprisingly he was a leading opponent of corporate excess as manifest by top management salaries, incentives and 'benefit packages'. In his own words: "in the next economic downturn, there will be an outbreak of bitterness and contempt for the super-corporate chieftains who pay themselves millions."


To most observers Drucker is perhaps the leading management 'guru' of the twentieth century but this accolade needs to be used with care - Drucker himself provocatively suggested that the popularity of the word was it was that it was more convenient to use than 'charlatan'.