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November 1, 2023

Tom Peters Donates His Archives to the Drucker Institute

Tom Peters donates his archive to the Drucker Institute at CGU

Tom Peters, one of the world’s leading business minds, has donated his nearly 40 years of books and articles to the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University (CGU). The Institute is home to Peter Drucker’s extensive archives.

“I saw a great opportunity to make the Drucker Institute the epicenter of management thinking and debate, allowing scholars, students, and leaders in the private, public, and social sectors to explore and learn from a near-century of writings on the topics of management, business, leadership, and humanism,” Peters said. (Drucker’s first book was published in 1939 and Peters’ last book in 2022.) “I am infinitely proud to be part of the Drucker family and hope my contributed papers will be of value to management thinkers and others in the years to come.”

CGU President Len Jessup said Peters’ seminal work, In Search of Excellence, co-written with Bob Waterman, inspired him to think deeply about his own pursuits in the fields of leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

“I still have a dog-eared copy of In Search of Excellence in my study that I pulled out to show Tom during his recent visit to CGU,” Jessup said. “It’s not an overstatement to say he significantly influenced my professional life.”

Michael Kelly, executive director of the Institute, said Peters and other leading thinkers on the history of management and leadership will visit CGU this coming March to celebrate “A Near Century of Thought Leadership on the Practice of Management” and to share their thoughts with scholars, students, and public and private sector leaders.

“We are really looking forward to hosting Tom on campus, both to thank him for the donation and to hear his insights,” Kelly said. “The event will underscore the synergies that now exist between the Institute and the Drucker School.”

David Sprott, dean of the Drucker School of Management, said Peters’ intellectual property will be a wonderful addition to the CGU and Institute archives and serve as a superb complement to Peter Drucker’s intellectual legacy.

“Peter Drucker worked and taught at CGU for the last 30 years of his life and was core to the founding of the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management,” Sprott said. “Our strong partnership with the Institute will further highlight the value in the continued sharing of the work of these intellectual giants.”

Kelly said Peters’ works will be preserved and digitized in the next few months.

“We’re going to give scholars, students, and others from around the world an opportunity to explore this seminal body of work and to support the Institute’s mission to build a more functional and stronger society.”

Peters was born in Baltimore and raised in Annapolis, as he has said, “with a lacrosse stick in one hand and oars over my shoulder,” He is a civil engineering graduate of Cornell, and he earned an MBA and a PhD from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has been honored by dozens of associations in content areas such as management, leadership, quality, human resources, campaigning for more women in senior leadership positions, customer service, innovation, marketing, and design.

During his time in the Navy from 1966-1970, Peters made two deployments to Vietnam as a combat engineer in the Seabees and “survived a tour in the Pentagon.” He was a White House drug-abuse policy advisor in 1973-1974 and then worked at McKinsey & Co. from 1974-1981, becoming a partner in 1979. He co-founded McKinsey’s now gargantuan Organization Effectiveness Practice.

He recalled his time at the Pentagon: “Completely baffled, a senior officer at one point handed me a copy of The Practice of Management. I wish, when I finally met him, I had been able to hand Peter Drucker that copy. From the colors of the underlinings, etc., it appears that I memorized the darn book and read every word at least three or four times. And, yes, The Practice of Management is still on my library shelf.”

In 1981, Peters founded Skunkworks Inc., The Palo Alto Consulting Center, and The Tom Peters Company, all in Palo Alto. (He was on the first San Jose Mercury News list of 100 most powerful people in Silicon Valley.) He and his wife, Susan Sargent—tapestry weaver, textiles entrepreneur, community, and climate change activist—now live on the edge of Buzzard’s Bay in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

The Drucker Archives

The Drucker Institute, in cooperation with the Honnold/Mudd Library at the Claremont Colleges, maintains a collection of records donated by Peter Drucker and others with whom he interacted. The archives support research related to Drucker’s life and work. This growing, searchable online replica of the archive’s physical records contains more than 8,000 items, including articles by or about Peter Drucker, images and magnetic media (tape drive, diskettes, hard drive), awards, ephemera, and realia.

The Drucker Institute

The Drucker Institute was founded by Peter Drucker to collect, preserve, and share his work with people from around the world working to strengthen “our society of organizations,” which consist of public, private, and social sectors, in order to build a more functioning society. The Institute’s mission is to strengthen organizations and society through executive education opportunities and management training that helps people manage with courage. To learn more, please reach out to the executive director at Michael.kelly@cgu.edu.