In a great book, “Peter Drucker Shaping the Managerial Mind”, the author, John Flaherty, writes on Peter Drucker’s critique of behavioral sciences from the angle of improving executive performance.
“In considering the role of the behavioral sciences from the angle of possibly improving executive performance, Drucker focused his critique on four main topics: (1) neglect of the productivity factor, (2) one – dimensional view of human nature, (3) power and morality, and (4) the mirage of motivation.
Neglect of the Productivity Factor
Drucker failed to discover any major correlation between human relations research and productivity. He found that the bulk of research activity, instead of concentrating on actual business results, centered on the validation and confirmation of the hypotheses proposed by the psychologists.
In asserting that human affairs were conducted imperfectly rather than with wisdom, Drucker deplored the dependence on untested assumptions, the fascination with neatly designed symmetrical models divorced from experience, and the tendency to leapfrog from abstraction to abstraction at the expense of concreteness. One reason for this palpable weakness in industrial psychology was the restricted and single-minded focus of the discipline. Behavioral scientists viewed the enterprise exclusively in terms of human satisfactions. Drucker disagreed, contending that the human element was only one of the firm’s survival areas, which also included marketing, finance, and innovation. Only a few industrial psychologists were exceptions to Drucker’s lack of admiration for the profession; among them were Abraham Maslow; Chris Argyris, and Frederick Herzberg. Although he often vigorously disagreed with their positions, he applauded their efforts to dissect the interaction between theory and practice by examining results.
Drucker admitted that most modern psychologists produced provocative and challenging concepts; however, these concepts were so intrinsically theoretical that it was impossible to convert them into meaningful business principles. Making this uncharitable point in a rather crass fashion, he told an interviewer:
You know, starting the Nobel Prize in Economics was a fundamental misunderstanding, because economics has to do with policy and not with knowledge. Psychology has to do with insight and vision and not with knowledge. Neither is a science. . . . I don’t think a Nobel for psychology makes any sense. Look, in physics and chemistry, the recognition is based directly on the judgment of your peers. But in economics and psychology, what you really recognize is the impact on the laity. That’s why the stature of a great psychology can’t depend on the judgment of peers, because they’ll choose somebody who fed sex hormones to tapeworms and turned them into lesbians.
On several occasions, Drucker conceded that the behavioral sciences were all to the good if they helped the practitioner to understand himself and others. In giving this bland endorsement, however, he failed to cite any concrete examples. Moreover, he made the point that psychology had no monopoly in providing understanding of the human condition. For example, he cited the genius of Shakespeare and Dickens in portraying characters and the dilemmas of human nature with far greater depth than the leading members of the behavioral science discipline.
In discussing its failure to bridge the gap between theory and performance, Drucker severely criticized popular psychology for its infatuation with fads and gimmicks. He seriously questioned the value of such proposed panaceas as Theory X and Theory Y, managerial grids, decision-making trees, role-playing games, assertiveness training, assessment centers for fast-track executives, assignments structured around personality traits, creativity centers, brainstorming, sensitivity training, consulting therapy, and transcendental meditation. According to Drucker there was no evidence that these academic endeavors enlarged the frontiers of knowledge, much less contributed to specific results.
Contending that logic without the test of experience was untenable, he strongly complained that the compulsion on psychologists to publish or perish was geared to the interests of academic mandarins rather than to the needs of the potential beneficiaries of psychological research, the professional practitioners. In essence, business academics felt that by emulating their colleagues in the liberal arts, they would earn more scholarly respect in the university for their disciplines. The implication was that scholarship would be considered contaminated, no longer genuine, if it could be labeled useful and pragmatic. Drucker, however, accused the profession of irresponsibility in rejecting practice for panaceas, dismissing fundamentals for gimmicks, sacrificing substance for style, and ignoring profitability performance for abstract and arcane research. He firmly insisted that without consideration of results, there could be no meaningful human relations function in the firm.
Drucker also observed that the publish-or-perish imperative often seemed mainly a vehicle for full employment for academic psychologists. For example, a novel panacea would appear in the business journals. Then a few months later other academics would attack the innovation as nugatory and illusory. Shortly after the old fad became an intellectual corpse, a new idea would became fashionable, only to quickly suffer the same fate as its predecessors.
The research of the behavioral scientists with their elegant equations, impressively packaged models, and promised solutions was cleverly and brilliantly conceived, but it suffered from the low correlation between pseudo knowledge and specific effectiveness. The chasm between research and effectiveness increased as academics isolated themselves in abstractions, far from the travails of the operating practitioner. And the brilliant intellectual achievement was next to worthless when the industrial psychologist refused to translate it into action. Drucker was reminded of the comment of Catherine the Great to Diderot: that which looks so astonishingly simple on paper loses its substance when put to the test of results. In the classic confrontation between the scholar and the doer, the former tended to adopt an aura of superiority by parading his or her learning. As psychologists focused on behavior to the neglect of results, the outcome was the breeding of arrogance, forcing Drucker to advise the practitioner that it was foolish to put up with the pompousness of academic experts.
What surprised and fascinated Drucker was that hardheaded businessmen who prided themselves on the notion that they were only interested in “what works” were the sponsors of a large part of the psychological research. Perhaps it was the fear of missing a golden intellectual breakthrough or simply peer group pressure that prompted executives to support so many senseless projects. Observing how managements were attracted to psychological fads and panaceas, Drucker became convinced that it was a myth that only the young were susceptible to peer group pressure.
Many consulting psychologists thought their role was to be catalysts in a process that allowed executives to arrive at a comfortable consensus by reconciling personality differences. In Drucker’s mind this chimerical quest for getting along by going along was nonproductive. Moreover, he thought that the emphasis on personality traits and the removal of personality conflicts in the organization was a misdiagnosis of reality.
He also did not believe that these consultants had a distinguished track record when it came to employee selection. A great deal of time and money had gone into employee selection using such means as search committees and head hunters. Perhaps these consultants were better than doing nothing-but not much better than doing nothing. The delegation of power to consulting psychologists in the CEO succession process in particular seemed totally ineffective and an abdication of managerial responsibility. He suggested a more valid way of handling the promotion and selection process was to undertake some form of internal market research by asking employees to identify the star performers in the organization and then ascertaining why these individuals performed so brilliantly over average executives.
In Drucker’s mind the most disturbing aspect of popular psychology was its creation of a new secular priesthood that claimed it could alter personality in the direction of human perfectibility. The shibboleth of this new trend was the endless search for the discovery of the “real me.” The goal was to attain, through a variety of therapeutic methods, greater personal self-esteem and mastery of human relations in the workplace. This idyllic and progressive path to human perfectibility was considered the potential solution to both personal and organizational problems. Drucker was totally skeptical of this quixotic objective, and remarked: “Contrary to everything that modern psychologists tell you, I am convinced that one can acquire knowledge, one can acquire skills, but one cannot change his personality.”
These secular attempts at human reengineering “all promise ‘consciousness raising’ and non-religious conversion resulting in a ‘changed person.’ ” However, Drucker thought fallacious the belief that such sessions could produce positive, permanent, and healthy outcomes. If the Almighty had wished to create such perfectly intelligent human beings, he would have done so. Drucker pointed out that An old gibe defines a “changed person” as a drunkard who does not hit the bottle for a whole week after taking the pledge at the temperance meeting. It pretty much fits the pop-psychological pseudo-revivals.
A month after the great personality change wrought by a week with a T-group, the New Adam likely had again become the Old sinner just as nasty, intolerant and uncaring as before (though perhaps a little more self-righteous). And while lasting positive effects were few, there often was long-term, sometimes irreversible, damage.
Believing that the basic personality profile of an individual had been formed by the age of five, he accepted that only God had the power to make revisions after that point. Rather than support the consciousness-raising techniques of psychologists, he worked within the framework that the human being was a specimen of neither perfect rationality nor perfect irrationality but an imperfect combination of both. He thought it was the height of folly to devise a perfect theory for human change-then it would only be necessary to wind up a mechanical man to do productive tasks.
As long as these modern forms of brainwashing received the support of top management, Drucker was positive that belief in magic had not ended with the Druids and alchemists. However, in rejecting the road toward human perfectibility, he gave an affirmative to the path toward human improvement.
One-Dimensional View of Human Nature
Drucker expressed a rigid rejection of absolutes, regardless of their content. It was hardly surprising, therefore, that he was fiercely against the endorsement of any theory of human nature that assumed people are all alike. Cataloguing individuals according to prescribed types could result only in a dull and boring psychology. And, as discussed earlier, he thought that considering psychology a science was an academic hang-up. He praised Freud and other great psychologists not for their scientific principles but for their vision and insights that enabled individuals to have a different perception of themselves and the people around them.
In this connection he also gave little credence to that popular psychological rage of the sixties-packaging human nature into X and Y personality types. Theory X assumed that people were inherently lazy and were incapable of motivation except through fear. Theory Y assumed employees were self-starting, diligent, ambitious, and capable of directing and motivating themselves.
Deriding such an overwhelming simplification of human nature, he did not believe that people had Theory X and Theory Y personalities. Neither Theory X nor Theory Y was all right or all wrong. Reality dictated that con fining people to narrow personality profiles was a senseless approach because it was possible to discern “different human natures which behave differently under different conditions.” He contended, for example, that to assume under Theory X that many people did not want to work was to be defeated at the outset. It was the manager’s job to make work productive and the worker an achiever-this included everybody. It was also a mistake to assume that Theory Y personalities did not require a tremendous amount of mature self-discipline. Theory Y makes extreme demands, and not everybody is adult enough to accept them.
Despite the rhetoric that was flowing from the young about autonomy and freedom, managers had to be careful in adopting such a permissive premise: “People, especially the young, think that they want all the freedom they can get, but it is very demanding, very difficult to think through who you are and what you do best.” Because character is a human and not a psychological trait, he argued that humans would always act as humans-unpredictable and indeterminate-and forever would defy the mandates of social and psycho- logical engineering.
Further complicating any deciphering of the human condition was the fact that people, regardless of supposed personality types, react differently under altered circumstances. Drucker found it puzzling that in one situation a person might sabotage something for one reason or another and in other situations perform proficiently. On this point he remarked: “We now know that individuals can acquire the habit of achievement but can also acquire the habit of defeat. This again is not compatible with either the Theory X or the Theory Y of human nature.” Moreover, his observation that human uniformity was a fallacy had been reinforced by his early consulting experience: “Of the scores of executives whom I met during my work with General Motors no two were alike. The main impression that has remained with me is of the diversity of personalities, characters, and idiosyncrasies, in complete contrast to the myth of ‘the organization man.’ ”
Drucker observed that it was the height of folly to slot people into jobs on the basis of personality profiles rather than defined tasks. Because humans participated in many different roles in their lifetimes and careers, each person manifested many different types of personality characteristics. He also felt it was a mistake to design a position around personality because that would inevitably lead to favoritism and conformity. In the final analysis it was the purpose of the job that determined how people would act.
Finally, Drucker ridiculed and dismissed any intellectual quest to design a one-dimensional rationale of human nature, for two major reasons. First, not only was not enough known about human nature, but all attempts to classify people into types ignored the crucial traits of character and integrity. It was not possible to acquire these trustworthy features; either a person had them or he did not. And “character is more important than abilities. That of course isn’t learned at an early age.” He reasoned that the absence of integrity meant the ultimate destruction of all work, whereas an employee of average competency but with moral values was unlikely to damage the organization. Second, in the real world there was no such element in the human spectrum as an “effective personality.” The one common denominator of effective people was that they got things done.
Power and Morality
Drucker found it remarkable that moral tenets were ignored in the literature of popular psychology. In the treatment of power, there was the implicit f assumption that the end justified the means and might made right. Equally disturbing, the treatment of power and morality in the business journals was predicated on untested hypotheses, monistic explanations, abstract absolutes, and unverified assumptions about managerial realities. To make their descriptions more impressive and convincing, the scholarly articles were presented in precise quantitative and mathematical form, leading Drucker to quip, ” ‘Scientific’ is not synonymous with quantification ;if it were, astrology would be the queen of sciences.”
Drucker suggested that it was the penchant of the behavioral scientists for over administering the employee and under managing the productivity of work that forced these scientists to ignore the moral norms of right and wrong. Instead, the emphasis was on treating adults as children and using deceptive techniques of coercion to gain control. The outcome of this amoral attitude was a paternalistic psychology embodying subtle elements of manipulation.
Interspersed throughout his writings, Drucker offered the following criticisms, which constitute a bill of indictment on the ethical shortcomings of industrial psychology:
– It fosters the mindless use of and unjustified faith in testing to predict employees‘ future performance.
– It structures jobs around personality rather than meaningful contributions.
– It defines jobs rigidly, implying that they are some sacrosanct form of organizational natural law.
– It sorts people into personality profiles in order to make the prophesies of psychological testing self-fulfilling.
– It compels executive spouses to undergo assertiveness training programs to adjust them to the canons of corporate culture.
– It is insensitive to the unintended and harmful side effects of the application of interventionist techniques to individuals.
– It results in companies that have training programs rather than training policies and placement programs rather than career paths for their employees.
– It preaches the slogan that people are our greatest resource but in practice ignores that premise by underutilizing and restricting the capabilities of the human resource.
– It fails to distinguish between the equality of opportunity and the equality of results.
– It is arrogant in proclaiming its ability to spot “crown princes” for top management positions.
– It is insistent on training people who either cannot learn from such training or who reject it.
The tools and practices of coercion violate organizational trust and teamwork-two fundamental moral imperatives for professional work. Paraphrasing the advice of Saint Augustine, Drucker counselled that no mundane institution deserved total allegiance and that every member of an organization required a private life. He reiterated these guiding organizational concepts by insisting that employers had no moral or legal right to demand absolute loyalty; they should require only an honest day’s work and a commitment to contribution. Additional demands were unjustified and an invitation to the abuse of managerial power. Unequivocal in his endorsement of the principles of employee privacy, he stated: “Company ordered psychological seminars are an invasion of privacy that is not justified by any company need. They are morally indefensible. And they are, bitterly resented. . . . Hence anything that goes beyond asking for the specific performance for the sake of which the employee is on the payroll is usurpation and illegitimate.”
Drucker insisted there was something inherendy unnatural about the psychological campaign for constant remedial and coercive therapy. He felt coercive control rejected the more realistic axiom that human beings desired to be human beings and that this simple fact was what human relations was all about. In his mind, when managers exceeded the power required to perform necessary tasks, the inevitable outcome was tyranny. The corrupting element in power became immediately evident when power meant perks and privileges for the superiors holding control and passive loyalty and obedience for the inferiors lacking it. Equally important, he indicated that the outcome, when executives played amateur psychologists, was the impression that “the manager is healthy while everybody else is sick.”
Drucker considered the pervasive misuse of psychotherapy techniques throughout the corporate world a violation of the traditional rules of morality and power, commenting that “if we applied the FDA rules of safety to psychotherapy there would be not one panacea on the market.” Discussing sensitivity training, one of the most popular therapeutic remedies of the 1960s, Drucker opted for what was for him the height of vitriolic sarcasm: “I’m one of those very simple people who believe that one is not entitled to inflict damage on the living body. For the weak, the lame, the defenseless, the shy, the vulnerable, this is a very dangerous thing. The real sadists, the wolves, tear the little lambs to pieces. The casualty rate is unacceptable.”
Drucker believed that psychotherapeutic T-groups were morally unjustified because they were tantamount to dissecting the human body while it was still alive. But equally unacceptable were consciousness raising sessions to enable the individual to find the “real me.” Drawing upon the wisdom of the philosopher Martin Buber, Drucker equated the search for the “real me” through the vehicle of sensitivity training with a quest for selfish egoism devoid of mutual obligations. T-groups did not communicate because they focused on the “I” and not the “Thou.”
According to Drucker, a psychological philosophy that viewed man as an instrument to be controlled rather than an independent moral being was one that also assumed that those who wielded the power were omniscient. He compared this psychological despotism to the doctrine of enlightened despotism in the political sphere. Because both the political and psychological variations of despotism depended for implementation on the creation of philosopher kings, he predicted a similar fate of inevitable failure for the latter: “Psychological despotism cannot work any more than enlightened despotism worked in the political sphere two hundred years ago-and for the same reason. It requires universal genius on the part if the ruler. ”
The political tyrant was chiefly interested in the control of the body, but Drucker pointed out that consciousness raising carried out through despotic techniques was an insidious form of “brainwashing”: “Under this new psychological dispensation, persuasion replaces command.” Emphasizing the dangers of mental manipulation, he added: “To use psychology to control, dominate, and manipulate others is self-destructive abuse of knowledge. It is also a particularly repugnant form of tyranny. The master of old was content to control the slave’s body.”
Drucker feared that the situational ethics of human relations were replacing the principles of right and wrong. Breaking with the traditional ethics of Western civilization, with its emphasis on individual responsibility, the new elastic ethics of doing one’s own thing preached the love of humanity but at the same time found it difficult to love the individual. Similarly, he thought psychologists practiced an insidious form of self-righteousness when they paradoxically dempted themselves from responsibility for their own behavior but were insistent in holding everybody else responsible for his or her own behavior.
Drucker conceded that modern managers had to know a great deal more about themselves and others than they presently did. But in a world of accelerating change and complexities, they also had to have knowledge about countless other disciplines. He further reminded managers of their need to be action focused, rather than allured and over fascinated with introspection. If carried too far, such introspection could endanger the survival of the enterprise. Indeed, “any manager, no matter how many psychology seminars he has attended, who attempts to put psychological despotism into practice will very rapidly become its first casualty. He will immediately blunder. He will impair performance.”
In Drucker’s mind, the success of a business depended on a unique idea. At the same time, the business mission should also be bolstered by a “sense of right purpose.” And the pursuit of wrong purpose was more deleterious to the health of the organization than the inefficient search for a moral purpose. In a similar vein, he urged executives to subscribe to a behavioral science that eschewed unnecessary controls, encouraged responsibility and self-discipline, and avoided the abuse of power.
Mirage of Motivation
Drucker’s evaluation of motivation will be more understandable against the backdrop of a summary of his harsh criticisms of the behavioral sciences. These criticisms included the failure to correlate results with heightened theoretical expectations, a disdain for the useful and practical, sterile techniques in evaluating human nature, the inane notion that people are all alike, the proposition that personal fulfillment is more important than organizational achievement, an obsessive concern with control and manipulative techniques, an absence of spiritual values, a fascination with meaningless quantitative models, and the simplistic search for a mythical “real me.” These and other severe indictments of the psychological community did not endear Drucker to the educational establishment. And such criticisms partially explain why his reception was much greater in the business than in the academic community. However, given his belief that the purpose of professional knowledge was to increase the effectiveness of the practitioner, Drucker was largely indifferent to the lack of admiration from the scholarly community.
In considering the topic of motivation, he expanded on his previous criticisms and frequently repeated his attacks on the psychologists for what he considered their shallow and irrelevant evaluations of the human conditional investigation: ”And despite all the research done on motivation in the last 50 years, we really so far know very much about how to quench motivation and very little about how to kindle it.”
Drucker was convinced that motivational psychologists ignored in their experiments the distinction between the quantifiable what and how of human activity and the metaphysical why of human meaning. The former concerned observable had its limits and was of little help in the examination of complex intangible phenomena.
In discussing the relationship between what went on in the mind (a “black box”) and recognizable behavior; he gave this example: “If little Johnny hits Suzie in the head with a rock, the act is overt. But the motivation is in the black box, and Johnny is just as unable as anybody else to peer into that black box.” Given the inability to look into the mystery of the mind, Drucker thought that the voluminous research on the why of motivational drives was fundamentally flawed. Faced with the dubious assumptions of motivational psychologists, he asserted that never have so many contributed so much massive quantification of human conduct with so few qualitative results.
Drucker went as far as to maintain that there had been no major substantive intellectual breakthroughs in our understanding of employee motivation since the Hawthorne study of seventy years ago. Everything in the interim had been a footnote on Elton Mayo’s pioneering innovation. He expanded satirically on the superficiality of research in the motivational segment of professional psychology: “There are only two kinds of books on which a publisher never loses money: cookbooks and books on motivation. And for the same reason. They are bought by people who can’t do either.”
If the enormous literature on motivation were simply a question of mental gymnastics and scholarly irrelevance, Drucker would have considered it a harmless pursuit among members of the academy for intellectual recognition. What troubled him, however, was the motivational psychologists who did not admit their ignorance and who claimed their techniques had the capacity to alter the human psyche. As described earlier, he felt that the perfectibility of human nature was the great illusion of modern psychology.
Drucker also challenged a favorite assumption of psychologists that the dysfunctions of organizational life had their roots in personality defects among professionals in the executive suites. These psychologists’ arrogant belief in their capacity to remedy defective personalities produced, in his judgment, a I secular priesthood of sorcerers and shamans. Because he considered the hypothesis that personality problems caused corporate problems a flawed one, leading inevitably to misdiagnosis of human and organizational reality, he offered a more sober evaluation of alleged human differences.
Reflecting on his extensive experience with organizations, Drucker reported it was a misconception of reality when clients complained to him that they had personality problems with their employees. He found that personality problems were in fact rare, largely because organizations were usually tolerant of diverse personalities. And he added parenthetically that too much attention had been paid to the subject of stress as a manifestation of pathology. Making the point that needs were satisfied by results and not hard work, he took exception to much of the literature, contending that most of the stress alluded to was in fact an illusion-it was not really stress if a person did not feel it directly-it was simply hard work.
Drucker’s objections to most of the claims of motivational theorists notwithstanding, he recognized the prime importance of motivation in the fact that no project could succeed without strongly committed and dedicated individuals. And the higher the achievement bar of performance was raised, the greater the requirements for motivational drive.
Drucker’s argument was not with the significance of motivation but with psychologists’ attempts to program motivation into people. He did not know anybody who had the wherewithal to motivate people in a systematic fashion to produce satisfactory results. He suggested that a sounder and simpler alternate a approach would be to encourage greater self-motivation through giving individuals responsibility. Personal involvement did matter, because outer success was rare if inner commitment was not present. However, many of the activities connected with motivational management actually seemed to make it difficult for people to work effectively, and Drucker observed that “having nothing to do except make sure that other people work is not managing-it is busyness.” The real challenge of executive effectiveness was to create conditions for growth so that individuals could motivate themselves. Yet this goal was currently untenable because of the unbridgeable gap between the theoretical tenets of motivational psychology (however well intended) and the realities of practical application.
Drucker felt it astonishing that the behavioral scientists paid so much attention to the factor of motivation when the real problem was “not to motivate people but to keep from turning them off. The quickest way to quench motivation is not to allow people to do what they’ve been trained to do.” His insight was that study should be devoted to those activities of mismanagement that hamper performance. Unlike the nuances of psychology, he argued, this was an area managers knew something about because they confronted it on a daily basis. As a result of his extensive consulting experience, which had exposed him to hundreds of organizations, he observed a plethora of pathologies that smothered motivation and contributed to nonresults. They included such practices and procedures as ill-designed jobs, unfair compensation plans, poorly conceived training programs, irrational work rules and regulations, encrusted corporate cultures, invasions of employee privacy, and failures to communicate objectives, to cite only a few.
The century-old carrot-and-stick solution for motivating employees was based on a combination of judicious intimidation and selected rewards. Drucker had never been enthusiastic about it even for the old industrialism, and he considered it a major source of demotivation for the knowledge workers of postindustrial society. The work and working dynamics of the new information age were based on the movement of concepts and ideas rather than the making and moving of things. This new economic order emphasized reciprocal relationships of trust and obligation between management and employees. Fear was incompatible with the responsibility and self-direction needed for knowledge work, because “if misused to drive, disciplinary devices can cause only resentment and resistance. They can only demotivate.”
Approaches to Effectiveness
If the “stick of fear” destroyed motivation because it lacked power and credibility, the lure of the carrot was even more motivationally debilitating in professional work. Drucker rejected the assumption that it was possible to manage knowledge workers. Because knowledge now equals authority, he deemed it totally imprudent to assert that one can manage the work of knowledge people. And the fact that everybody was asserting it in books did not make it true.
Accordingly, traditional motivational techniques, using the incentive of the materialistic carrot of rewards, were completely at odds with contemporary organizational reality. Drucker looked upon this mercenary approach as a manipulative way of providing psychological security but said it could not promote genuine professional motivation: “Responsibility cannot be bought for money. Financial rewards and incentives are, of course, important, but they work largely negatively. ” For example, magnificent salaries, luxurious working conditions, regular promotions, and privileges might have symbolic significance, but they can be disillusioning when it comes to motivation because “nothing creates dissatisfaction faster than a big title, a lot of money and only donkey work to do. It destroys your hope because where else is there to go.”
Drucker further contended that salary increases were not considered badges of merit but were looked upon as a yardstick of comparison with one’s peers, and “there is no more powerful disincentive, no more effective bar to motivation, than dissatisfaction over one’s pay compared to that of one’s peers.” English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), in Leviathan, presumed that life was a brutal social existence consisting of a joyless quest for power and a war of all against all, a view that places satisfaction over accomplishment in the economic steeplechase of materialism. Drucker, however, increment of material rewards capable of motivating people to work has to become larger. As people get more they do not become satisfied with a little more, let alone with less. They expect much more.” He compared money used as a motivator to a heroin addiction because it wore off quickly and required larger and larger doses for ephemeral satisfaction: “This also means that the social side effects of the carrot are reaching toxic proportions. A potent medicine always has side effects; and the larger the dosage, the greater the side effects. ”
In The Practice of Management (1954), Drucker raised the question of whether or not personnel management was bankrupt. He answered: “No it is not bankrupt. Its liabilities do not exceed its assets. But it is certainly insolvent, certainly unable to honor, with the ready cash of performance, the promises of managing worker and work it so liberally makes.” He added that most of what passed for human relations was so mechanical and barren that it could be dispensed by mail. If it were not for the unions, he wondered if personnel departments were at all necessary.
Drucker accused the industrial psychologists of operating under such misguide assumptions as confusing the principle of analysis with the principle of action, divorcing planning from doing, emphasizing fire fighting over fire prevention, focusing on fear and manipulation as substitutes for pride and professionalism in motivating the workforce, concentrating on the passive goals of employee happiness and satisfaction instead of fostering peak performance, practicing psychological despotism under the rhetoric of caring for the work force, and overstressing the potency of financial rewards to the exclusion of other motivational factors.
Even more important than the use of questionable techniques was the dubious moral philosophy that said material fulfillment and personal security were genuine substitutes for continued learning and development: “We committed a great crime,” Drucker said. “We upgraded the income, the social status, and the job security of people without upgrading their competence. It’s like bringing a baby raccoon into the house and making a pet out of it, then when it becomes big, you throw it out into the wilds to fend for itself.”
Finally, Drucker viewed the psychologists’ efforts as concentrating on the manual worker in order to improve productivity, but this was yesterday’s worker. Totally lacking was the vision necessary to emphasize the importance of the knowledge worker.