During this English interlude, Drucker discovered that he was not an economist. Every week he took the train down to Cambridge University to attend John Maynard Keynes' seminar. While literally sitting at the great man's feet he "suddenly realized that Keynes and all the brilliant economics students in the room were interested in the behavior of commodities while I was interested in the behavior of people." His interest in people would lead him to the study of management, which, seeming to be about commodities, is for Drucker all about people. It would lead as well to his career as a management consultant. "This is a person business," he'd say about consulting. "We are not greengrocers selling commodities." As for economics, "There is only one point on which the economists and I are in agreement: I am NOT an economist." And as for Keynesian economics, notably its advice to governments to spend their way out of depressions, "It was like a doctor telling you that you have inoperable liver cancer, but it will be cured if you go to bed with a beautiful seventeen-year-old."

Jack Beatty,
from The World According to Peter Drucker
(The Free Press, 1998)


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Copyright © 1998 by Jack Beatty. Published by The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.