How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

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Location: India

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

'Men, Ideas & Politics' - I

This is the first complete book by Peter Drucker (Basic Books, 1971) that I read recently. It is indeed quite strange that one can go through an entire B-school curriculum without encountering Drucker's writing anywhere. Reading this collection of essays, I also felt that Drucker was the only eminent thinker on management to have knowledge and interests much vaster than this field. Consequently, he could make sense of and understand the significance of things others would ignore, as far as management thought goes.

This is a collection of essays written at various times, but all revolving around the theme of 'social ecology', as Drucker called it. It refers to the interaction of economic, political and social thought and action. I will touch upon some of the essays here.

In 'The New Markets and the New Entrepreneurs', Drucker does what he was considered great at - prediction. It consists of insightful observations about the next age of markets and consumers, the new workforce (for which he uses the term 'knowledge workers', which he
coined), the age of the multinational company, etc.

'The Unfashionable Kierkegaard' is on a totally different wicket. It's about the philosophy of the 19th-century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard - that man's existence is one of constant tension between his individuality and his citizenship in society. It is therefore fundamentally different from Marx's, Rousseau's and Hegel's ideas of man's existence having meaning only through society. It is the fact of death which makes Kierkegaard's ideas more believable, for in death man is ultimately on his own. The philosophy envisions man's existence as essentially tragic, but Kierkegaard proposed faith as the means to overcome the despair resulting from the tension of existence.

In 'Calhoun's Pluralism', Drucker outlines how the American government at the Federal level works. He asserts that American democracy functions in a unique way - through allocating work on all important issues to various Committees and Sub-Committees of the Congress. Each
Committee actually represents a special interest group, and thus the allocation of work to different Committees itself gives an indication of what kind of legislation might appear. Thus, the US is governed by the principle of 'sectional and interest compromise', rather than a clash of different ideologies. It is the kind of pluralism that the 19th-century thinker John Calhoun first wrote about.

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