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Ellen Terrell, Business Reference Specialist, Science, Technology & Business Division
Jan Herd, Business Reference Specialist, Science, Technology & Business Division
Note: This guide was originally prepared for an display in the Science and Business Reading Room of the Library of Congress December 2005 - January 2006. This guide was created at the time but has been updated.
Created: December 2005
Last Updated: April 2019
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Peter Drucker was born on November 19, 1909 External in Vienna and when he died on November 11, 2005, just eight days short of his 96th birthday, Peter F. Drucker was often described as the inventor of modern management. His books have stood the test of time, and are still considered some of the best business books to read on management and leadership. Here are three notable examples (with links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog):
In a 1980 article, the Harvard Business Review published "Why Read Peter Drucker" External (reprinted in 2009) that says "For the most part, however, Drucker’s books command attention neither for their stock of aphorisms nor for their mastery of technical computation. Ears perk up, rather, to catch the wisdom of Drucker’s animating ideas." It answers the question posed in the title by saying:
To be sure, few of these ideas are original with Drucker. Even fewer have escaped treatment in at least a dozen management texts. Yet there is always a value in reencountering sensible thought sensibly put. But if the substance of his books is neither original nor unique, if what they offer at best is no more or less than the readily paraphrasable content of his thinking, why bother to read them? Why, in short, read Peter Drucker and not a streamlined digest of his major ideas?
The answer is simple: Drucker’s real contribution to managerial understanding lies not so much in the cash value of his ideas as in the rigorous activity of mind by which they are formulated. One can learn more—and more deeply—from watching him think than from studying the content of his thought.
Jack Beatty's biography of Drucker entitled, The World According to Peter Drucker, states "Mr Drucker .. has tried for 60 years to take the capital out of capitalism... He discusses economic life in terms of values, integrity, character, knowledge, vision, responsibility, self-control, social integration, teamwork, community competence, social responsibility, the quality of life, self-fulfilment, leadership... dignity, meaning-but rarely money." Peter Drucker assumed the offensive against shameless greed in the boardroom. This lesson still rings true today.
Part of the Science, Technology & Business Division at the Library of Congress, Business Reference Services is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of business and economics. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of business assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of business and economics materials.