"His writings are landmarks of the managerial profession."
Harvard Business Review

"Drucker's ideas continue to display a force and resonance that leave him pretty much in a class by himself. It is impossible to read the man without learning a lot."
Fortune Magazine



Price: $18.00
Binding: Paperback
224 pages
Also available as an Audiobook


New and revolutionary ideas and perspectives on the central management issues of tomorrow by "the most important management thinker of our time" (Warren Bennis).

In his first major new book since Post-Capitalist Society Peter F. Drucker discusses the new paradigms of management--how they have changed and will continue to change our basic assumptions about the practices and principles of management. Drucker analyzes the new realities of strategy, shows how to be a leader in periods of change, and explains "the New Information Revolution," discussing the information an executive needs and the information an executive owes. He also examines knowledge worker productivity, and shows that changes in the basic attitude of individuals and organizations as well as structural changes in work itself are needed for increased productivity. Finally, Drucker addresses the ultimate challenge of managing yourself while still meeting the demands on the individual during a longer working life and in an ever-changing workplace.

Incisive, challenging, and mind-stretching, Drucker's new book is forward-looking and forward thinking. It combines the broad knowledge, wide practical experience, profound insight, sharp analysis, and enlightened common sense that are the essence of Drucker's writings, which are continuing international bestsellers and "landmarks of the managerial profession" (Harvard Business Review).

"This is not a book of PREDICTIONS, not a book about the FUTURE. The challenges and issues discussed in it are already with us in every one of the developed countries and in most of the emerging ones (e.g., Korea or Turkey). They can already be identified, discussed, analyzed and prescribed for. Some people, someplace are already working on them. But so far very few organizations do, and very few executives. Those who do work on these challenges today, and thus prepare themselves and their institutions for the new challenges, will be the leaders and dominate tomorrow. Those who wait until these challenges have indeed become `hot' issues are likely to fall behind, perhaps never to recover.

This book is thus a Call for Action."-- From the Introduction


Why Assumptions Matter

BASIC ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT REALITY are the PARADIGMS of a social science, such as management. They are usually held subconsciously by the scholars, the writers, the teachers, the practitioners in the field. Yet those assumptions largely determine what the discipline--scholars, writers, teachers, practitioners--assumes to be REALITY.

The discipline's basic assumptions about reality determine what it focuses on. They determine what a discipline considers "facts," and indeed what it considers the discipline itself to be all about. The assumptions also largely determine what is being disregarded in a discipline or is being pushed aside as an "annoying exception." They decide both what in a given discipline is being paid attention to and what is neglected or ignored.

A good example is what happened to the most insightful of the earlier management scholars: Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933).* Because her assumptions did not fit the realities which the budding discipline of management assumed in the 1930s and 1940s, she became a "nonperson" even before her death in 1932, with her work practically forgotten for twenty-five years or more. And yet we now know that her basic assumptions regarding society, people and management were far closer to reality than those on which the management people then based themselves--and still largely base themselves today.

Yet, despite their importance, the assumptions are rarely analyzed, rarely studied, rarely challenged--indeed rarely even made explicit.

For a social discipline such as management the assumptions are actually a good deal more important than are the paradigms for a natural science. The paradigm--that is, the prevailing general theory--has no impact on the natural universe. Whether the paradigm states that the sun rotates around the earth or that, on the contrary, the earth rotates around the sun has no effect on sun and earth. A natural science deals with the behavior of OBJECTS. But a social discipline such as management deals with the behavior of PEOPLE and HUMAN INSTITUTIONS. Practitioners will therefore tend to act and to behave as the discipline's assumptions tell them to. Even more important, the reality of a natural science, the physical universe and its laws, do not change (or if they do only over eons rather than over centuries, let alone over decades). The social universe has no "natural laws" of this kind. It is thus subject to continuous change. And this means that assumptions that were valid yesterday can become invalid and, indeed, totally misleading in no time at all.

Everyone these days preaches the team as the "right" organization for every task. (I myself began to preach teams as early as 1954 and especially in my 1973 book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices.) Underlying the present orthodoxy regarding teams is a basic assumption held practically by all management theorists and by most practitioners since the earliest days of thinking about organization, that is, since Henri Fayol in France and Walter Rathenau in Germany around 1900: There is--or, at least, there MUST be--ONE right organization. And what matters most is not whether the team is indeed "the answer" (so far there is not too much evidence for it), but, as will be discussed a little later, that the basic assumption of the one right organization is no longer tenable.

What matters most in a social discipline such as management are therefore the basic assumptions. And a CHANGE in the basic assumptions matters even more.

Since the study of management first began--and it truly did not emerge until the 1930s--TWO SETS of assumptions regarding the REALITIES of management have been held by most scholars, most writers and most practitioners:
One set of assumptions underlies the DISCIPLINE of management:
1. Management is Business Management.
2. There is--or there must be--ONE right organization structure.
3. There is--or there must be--ONE right way to manage people.

Another set of assumptions underlies the PRACTICE of Management:
1. Technologies, markets and end-uses are given.
2. Management's scope is legally defined.
3. Management is internally focused.
4. The economy as defined by national boundaries is the "ecology" of enterprise and management.

For most of this period--at least until the early 1980s--all but the first of these assumptions were close enough to reality to be operational, whether for research, for writing, for teaching or for practicing management. By now all of them have outlived their usefulness. They are close to being caricatures. They are now so far removed from actual reality that they are becoming obstacles to the Theory and even more serious obstacles to the Practice of management. Indeed, reality is fast becoming the very opposite of what these assumptions claim it to be. It is high time therefore to think through these assumptions and to try to formulate the NEW ASSUMPTIONS that now have to inform both the study and the practice of management.