Peter Drucker -- consultant, professor, expert on Japanese art, and author of some 22 books -- is probably America's preeminent writer on management. Certainly no one else this side of Harold Robbins has produced books that sell so well, stay in print so long, and reach so many people. Austrian-born Drucker has been translated into 21 languages; even the Japanese like him, and not just when he writes about art.
Every company head we asked seemed to have a different Drucker favorite. F. Kenneth Iverson, chairman and CEO of Nucor Corp., likes The Practice of Management (1954), one of Drucker's earliest analyses of what managers do: "It has all the elements of how to run a successful business." James Watson, president of Skyway Freight Systems Inc., recommends Managing in Turbulent Times (1980), Drucker's study of the economic changes wrought by the '70s; it's "about the cyclical environment we operate in and how to plan around it," Watson says. Earle Jones of Mississippi Management Inc. favors Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practices (1973), a tome of 800-plus pages that lays out Drucker's thinking in exhaustive detail. Undaunted by the book's size, Jones says he distributes it to all his managerial trainees.
The only virtue never ascribed to Drucker is self-effacement. Asked to suggest a book other than his own to INC. readers, he replied: "I can't. My publisher would skin me alive if I don't recommend my own book." His latest opus: The Frontiers of Management. Unlike earlier books, this one is mostly previously published pieces -- including Drucker's interview with INC. (October 1985).