Peter’s work has inspired my research interests in marketing, innovation and entrepreneurship. I admire the many insights he provided and I’m frequently reminded of how relevant his ideas are in today’s environment. As a major piece of assessment, I have my marketing students write an assignment titled “The Customer is the Business,” based around a chapter in Peter’s book, Managing for Results, published in 1964. The students relate this material to a business with which they are familiar and comment on how applicable and insightful Peter’s ideas remain.
I believe we can preserve Peter’s legacy by either becoming Drucker historians or encouraging conversations based around his many ideas. My personal preference is for the latter. As an example, I am co-editing a Special Issue of the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science dedicated to Peter Drucker. Below is an edited extract from the call for papers:
The primary purpose of the special issue is to preserve Peter Drucker’s legacy by creating conversations around many of his ideas related to marketing. Accordingly, papers will be judged both on the depth of conversation contained within the paper and the ability of the paper to generate future dialogue. Possible papers may include, but are not limited to, the following areas:
- Consumerism. What is consumerism? What impact has consumerism had on society? How does consumerism fit with “Primum non nocere” (i.e., “Above all, not knowingly to do harm”)?
- Marketing or selling? Drucker believed that marketing is merely rhetoric in many organizations and suggested that too many organizations still emphasize selling (which Drucker labeled the antithesis of marketing). Done well, marketing should make selling superfluous.
- The primary goal of business is to satisfy customer needs; products and processes that do not add value should be eliminated. What are the implications of eliminating products and processes that do not add value? What is the impact of emphasizing customer satisfaction as the primary goal of a business?
- The role of profit in business. If the purpose of a business is to create a customer then what is the role of profit? Drucker considered profit maximization a meaningless, harmful and misunderstood concept because of the perceived contradiction between the role of profit and the ability of a business to make a social contribution. How do managers balance the need for profit maximization and processes that result in innovation and customer creation?
- Opportunity recognition. What methods do managers use to identify changes? What are the early warning signals of threats as well as missed opportunities? What strategic choices are most durable?