Time for Posthumous Praise


With last week’s release of the Michael Jackson “This Is It” movie, a fair number of articles pointed out that other famous figures – from Albert Einstein to Billy Mays – maintained their popularity, maybe increased it, after their death.

Here’s someone else we might add to the list: Peter Drucker.

The name of that management guru pops to mind because this is the Drucker Centennial Week, a series of events in Los Angeles County to mark Drucker’s upcoming 100th birthday. And in the four years since his death, Drucker may have gained influence.

For example, 25 Drucker societies or Drucker clubs have been created in 15 countries. In these volunteer groups, some members have formed book clubs to discuss and debate his principles and some have started Drucker-based training programs for non-profit organizations and the like, according to the Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker Institute, which coordinates the Drucker societies. A Drucker-in-High-Schools program has gotten started in Los Angeles.

Drucker is one of those rare guys who was way ahead of his time. Management wasn’t really thought of as a science until he came along. He coined the term “knowledge worker” 50 years ago – it must have seemed an odd concept then but an obvious one now. And his emphasis on creating effective management systems with a humanistic set of principles feeds into the kind of philosophy that appeals to today’s managers, particularly young ones.

OK, so we’re not at the point where Drucker’s image is printed on T-shirts for sale on Hollywood Boulevard. Still, his influence seems destined to wax, not wane.

For more, don’t miss the interview with the dean of the Drucker school, Ira Jackson, on page 17. And if you’re interested, you can go to DruckerInstitute.com to learn more about the Drucker Centennial Week speakers and events.

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The weak dollar is one of those topics that seems mostly of interest to savvy foreign exchange traders and distant Federal Reserve officials in mahogany-paneled offices. But it has a big effect everywhere, including some gritty places right here.

Take the thousands of dockworkers and truckers who work at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, America’s biggest port complex. Sure, the recession is the main culprit for the swoon in container traffic, which is down 16 percent so far this year at Los Angeles and 22 percent at Long Beach. But the weak dollar is exacerbating the woe.

A weak dollar boosts exports but curtails imports, because imports become more expensive. Trouble is the ports depend far more on imports. The Port of Long Beach, for example, handles twice as many inbound containers as outbound.

And many of the import companies clustered around the ports can’t be too pleased, whacked on the head by the recession, kicked in the shins by high-cost imports.

A little bump up in the super-low interest rates would sure help. That may trim the stock markets a bit, but think of the benefits. It would send a signal that the worst of the recession is over, maybe head off inflation and stop punishing savers. (Savers, man of them elderly, have been earning 1 percent or less for too long.) Best of all, it would help the dollar rally, which would make imports – such as oil – cheaper.

The value of a country’s currency is kind of like the value of a company’s stock. And not much good comes from a sustained period of an anemically priced currency.

Charles Crumpley is editor of the Business Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].

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