Peter F. Drucker—A Timeline


Early Years

Born in Vienna, Austria, on November 19, 1909, into a highly educated professional family that is deeply involved in the cultural, political and economic affairs of the day. His kindergarten teacher taught "the concept of management."

1918 The school he attends in 4th grade, run by the beloved Miss Elsa and Miss Sophy, focuses on what people can do, which becomes an early model of the Drucker credo.

1919 Enters gymnasium and is instructed in religion by Father Pfliegler, who poses the key existential question, "What do you want to be remembered for?" This question will be an important touchstone for Drucker throughout his life.


1927 Moves from Austria to Germany to study law at Hamburg University. One course presents admiralty law as a microcosm of Western history, society, technology, legal thought, and economy and becomes the model for Drucker’s teaching of the discipline of management.

Hears a performance of Verdi’s Falstaff at the Hamburg Opera and is inspired to do his life’s work in the spirit of Verdi, who said: "All my life as a musician I have striven for perfection. It has always eluded me. I surely have an obligation to make one more try."

1929 Publishes two econometric papers, one of which predicts in early fall 1929 the continued rise of the stock market; this cures him permanently of making predictions. Takes a job as a trainee securities analyst in the Frankfurt branch of a Wall Street firm and transfers to Frankfurt University.

Joins Frankfurt’s largest daily newspaper, the Frankfurter General Anzeiger, as a financial writer. Promoted a year later to senior editor in charge of foreign affairs and business. His boss, Erich Dombrowski, a leading liberal editor, teaches him to evaluate his work and decide what to focus on, what to improve, and what to learn. This review becomes a key element of Drucker’s work with managers and organizations.





1931 Receives a Ph.D. in international law from Frankfurt University.

1932 Publishes essay on Friedrich Julius Stahl, a leading German conservative philosopher, that offends the Nazi government. The pamphlet is banned and burned. Drucker decides not to stay in Germany under Nazi rule and moves to London where he works for a merchant bank and continues to write and to study economics.

1937 Weds Doris Schmitz and moves to the United States as an American correspondent for a group of British newspapers.

1939 Publishes his first book, The End of Economic Man: The Origins of Totalitarianism (reissued 1995), which Winston Churchill orders be included in the book kit provided to every graduate of the British Officers’ Candidate School. Teaches part-time at Sarah Lawrence College.



1942 Joins the faculty at Bennington College, Vermont, as a professor of politics and philosophy.

1943 Publishes his second book, The Future of Industrial Man (reissued 1994), which leads to an invitation from General Motors to study their corporate and top management structure, his first of many consulting projects.

1945-46 Publishes The Concept of the Corporation (reissued 1992). This book, which originated in Drucker’s study of General Motors, introduces the concept of decentralization as a principle of organization and the concept of management by objectives to replace command and control. Also introduces the principle of worker responsibility, which General Motors rejects and which Japan makes the cornerstone of its postwar industrial strategy.


1950 Joins the faculty of the Graduate Business School of New York University as a professor of management, where he stays until 1971. Overhears Joseph Schumpeter, noted Harvard economist, say to his father, Adolph Drucker, "I know that it is not enough to be remembered for books and theories.

One does not make a difference unless it is a difference in people’s lives." This idea becomes a key part of Drucker’s thinking about his own life and work.

1954 Publishes The Practice of Management and establishes management among the major social innovations of the 20th century. Among his contributions are the three classic questions: What is our business? Who is our customer? What does our customer consider value?


Receives the Presidential Citation at New York University, the highest award given by the university.


1971 Leaves New York University to become the Clarke Professor of Social Sciences and Management at Claremont Graduate School in California.

1975 Begins a 20-year tenure as a monthly columnist for the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Begins a self-described "period of greatest productivity."

1976 Appointed to the board of the financially distressed Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Donors respond to his vision, and the museum is turned around. Provides a similar vision for CARE at a time when that organization is reeling from financial scandal.

1979-85 Becomes a professorial lecturer in Oriental art at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.


1987 The Peter F. Drucker Graduate Management Center at Claremont Graduate University is named in his honor.


1997 The Drucker Center becomes The Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.

1998 The Drucker Archives is inaugurated at Claremont Graduate University. Drucker’s works are collected and categorized in the archives, making his ideas, ideals, and philosophy widely accessible to scholars and practitioners.


2001 The Salvation Army awards Drucker the Evangeline Booth Award, its highest civilian honor, for his tremendous influence for positive good in the nonprofit field. "There is no organization I admire more or respect more than the Salvation Army," Drucker said. "It has been my teacher and my mentor."

2002 Drucker is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush for his service to the field of management.

2004 The name of Drucker’s friend Masatoshi Ito is added to the name of the Drucker School in recognition of Ito’s longstanding relationship and significant financial support for the school.

2005 McKinsey Award. Presented by the Harvard Business Review for the best business article published by HBR in 2005. Drucker’s "What Makes an Effective Executive" tied for first place.

Prepared by the Office of Marketing & Communications at Claremont Graduate University 165 E. Tenth St., Claremont, Calif. 91711 909-621-8028

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