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What Would Drucker Do Now? by Rick Wartzman

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3Management Challenges for the Twenty-First Century

The Problem with GM’s UAW Deal

In 1946, Peter Drucker’s intimate, multiyear examination of General Motors, Concept of the Corporation, was published. GM hated it. Drucker’s take—that the then-wildly-successful automaker might want to reexamine a host of long-standing policies on customer relations, dealer relations, employee relations, and more—was viewed from inside the corporation as hypercritical. GM’s revered chairman, Alfred Sloan, was so upset about the book that he “simply treated it as if it did not exist,” Drucker later recalled, “never mentioning it and never allowing it to be mentioned in his presence.”

The United Auto Workers didn’t exactly embrace Drucker’s thinking either. Among ...

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