“Peter drucker, the guru of modern management, in his famous book The Post Capitalist Society1 says that in future industrial societies ‘knowledge’ would be the chief resource driving them forward. The main workers in such postmodern societies, he thinks, would not be people working on resources like land and labour but instead on a new sort of capital called knowhow. These he terms ‘knowledge workers’.
But defining labour in such a way also means redefining what knowledge itself means, which in turns leads to a redefinition of human nature. And this is what Peter Drucker does, not only in this book of his, but in his project taken as a whole. Knowledge according to him is that which is useful for the progress of society, knowledgeable people being people who are socially and industrially usable. This utilitarian definition of knowledge involves its inevitable corollary: the utilitarian definition of human worth.
Management as a science or art could be defined as a science or art dealing with the management of human beings or the knowledge resource embedded in humans. This being the case, the definition of the nature of the human being has a very crucial, and often ignored, connection with management. This connection, owing to the subject it treats of, is essentially philosophical. Human nature is not a management subject
as such, but is a subject of philosophy, and so the correctness or otherwise of Drucker’s conception of the role of humans in society and the knowledge they own as their capital resource, is to be challenged or studied philosophically.
I venture in this paper to make bold that the prevalent underlying conceptions of modern management are more or less incorrect in their understanding of human nature. Human beings, even in the most liberal systems of management thought, are viewed ultimately as tools of the social and industrial machinery. Their understanding of knowledge and its usability in serving the wheel of the social and industrial complex, defines their understanding of human utility. Both these understandings of human nature and human knowledge are in the root flawed and are the major causes of the mismeasurement of humans—and so also their ‘mismanagement’— and environment that modern industrial capitalism could be held accountable for.”
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This article was first published in the Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata (www.advaitaashrama.org). I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. You can subscribe online at www.advaitaashrama.org. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To know more click here