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The New Society: The Anatomy of Industrial Order

by Peter Drucker

the new society

Amazon link: The New Society: The Anatomy of Industrial Order


Introduction to the Transaction Edition

Preface to the 1962 Edition

Introduction: The Industrial World Revolution

First Part: The Industrial Enterprise

bbx The New Social Order

bbx The Enterprise in Modern Society

bbx The Anatomy of Enterprise

bbx The Law of Avoiding Loss

bbx The Law of Higher Output

bbx Profitability and Performance

Second Part: The Problems of Industrial Order: The Economic Conflicts

bbx The Real Issue in the Wage Conflict

bbx The Worker's Resistance to Higher Output

bbx The Hostility to Profit

Third Part: The Problems of Industrial Order: Management and Union

bbx Can Management Be a Legitimate Government?

bbx Can Unionism Survive?

bbx Union Needs and the Common Weal

bbx The Union Leader's Dilemma

bbx The Split Allegiance Within the Enterprise

bbx Fourth Part: The Problems of Industrial Order: The Plant Community

bbx The Individual's Demand for Status and Function

bbx The Demand for the Managerial Attitude

bbx Men at Work

bbx Is There Really a Lack of Opportunity?

bbx The Communications Gap

bbx Slot-Machine Man and Depression Shock

Fifth Part: The Problems of Industrial Order: The Management Function

bbx The Threefold Job of Management

bbx Why Managements Don't Do Their Job

bbx Where Will Tomorrow's Managers Come From?

bbx Is Bigness a Bar to Good Management?

Sixth Part: The Principles of Industrial Order: Exit the Proletarian

bbx Labor as a Capital Resource

bbx Predictable Income and Employment

bbx The Worker's Stake in Profit

bbx The Threat of Unemployment

Seventh Part: The Principles of Industrial Order: The Federal Organization of Management

bbx "The Proper Study of Mankind Is Organization"

bbx Decentralization and Federalism

bbx Is a Competitive Market Necessary to Management?

Eighth Part: The Principles of Industrial Order: The Self-Governing Plant Community

bbx Community Government and Business Management

bbx "Management Must Manage"

bbx The Worker and His Plant Government

bbx Plant Self-Government and the Union

Ninth Part: The Principles of Industrial Order: The Labor Union as a Citizen

bbx A Rational Wage Policy

bbx How Much Union Control Over the Citizen?

bbx When Strikes Become Unbearable

Conclusion: A Free Industrial Society

Epilogue to the 1962 Edition

The Changing Social and Economic Picture

Introduction to the Transaction Edition

The New Society was the third and last of my books analyzing and diagnosing the industrial society that emerged out of World War II.

It followed The Future of Industrial Man (1942) and The Concept of the Corporation (1946), both also reissued by Transaction Publishers.

The first of these attempted to develop a social theory of society in general and of the industrial society in particular.

The second analyzed and presented a major industrial enterprise—the world's largest and (then) most successful manufacturing company, General Motors in the United States.

It did so from the inside, as the result of an eighteen-month investigation during which GM opened itself to my inspection.

This, the third book, then distilled the conclusions of its two predecessors into a systematic, organized analysis, both theoretical and practical, of industrial society, its constituent elements, its major institutions, its social characteristics, its problems, and its future.

Nothing like this had been done before; and, indeed, nothing like this has been attempted since.

For The New Society not only presented analyses of the major institutions—large business enterprise, government, the labor union—it also attempted to place the individual within this social context; and it equally tried to relate the sociology of an industrial society to the political principles of a free society.

One of the insights of this book which might surprise today's reader, is the chapter entitled "Can Unionism Survive?" To most readers forty years ago this was a silly question and a good many reviewers said so.

Unions then were the entrenched rulers of industrial society, the real winners, the real powers.

But it was evident to me even then, having worked with major unions for a few years, that their power base was extremely narrow and that the question of their real function in an industrial society had yet to be answered.

That management, having power, needs a countervailing power, this book clearly stated—and I believe in this as firmly as I did forty years ago.

But that the union as we inherited it from the nineteenth century—with or without Marxist flavor—is the right way to do that job, this book doubted.

Events since then have amply validated the author's conclusion that unionism as it existed in 1949—which is still the only unionism we in the United States really know—can survive.

Today's reader may feel that unions are given too much space in the book and are taken too seriously.

But the basic question then raised, which is really the question of the basic political structure of an employee society, still has to be answered.

But while unions loom larger in this book than they might loom in a similar book today, one major element of modern society is conspicuously absent in this book.

And no one in 1949—and I do mean "no one"—then saw it: the knowledge worker.

I became the first one to see knowledge work and the knowledge worker.

Indeed I did coin the term, but only eight years later, in my next book on society and social analysis, Landmarks of Tomorrow (1957; also being reissued as a Transaction book).

In retrospect it is amazing that all of us, without exception, failed to see the emergence of the educated employed middle class, the knowledge worker, who became the center of society within another ten or fifteen years.

The event that produced this shift had already occurred: the G.I.

Bill of Rights of post-World War II America had opened the doors of colleges and universities to millions of returning veterans.

Some of us did indeed realize even then that this was a dramatic innovation.

I recall a paper I wrote at the time that pointed out that such a policy would have been unthinkable after World War I, and, indeed the World War I veterans would not have considered such a reward a "benefit" at all and would not have availed themselves of it in any numbers.

But that this policy signified a fundamental shift in social values and, ultimately, in social structure escaped every observer including this one and yet, in retrospect it should have been obvious.

The Industrial Society that this book depicted was then at its peak.

It looks different today.

In the first place, the economic center of gravity in developed countries has shifted from manufacturing industry to service industries of all kinds.

And within industry it has largely shifted from the very big business that was the success story of the 1930s and 1940s—and of the 1950s as well—to medium-sized business.

In the second place the center of social gravity no longer clearly lies in business; the non-profit "third sector" has become increasingly important in every developed country (excepting only Japan.)

And, as already said, the basic social problems of a developed country are no longer industrial workers; they have become secondary.

Increasingly our concerns will center on the productivity of knowledge work and on the dignity of service work, neither known to The New Society or to the time in which it was written.

Still, with these adjustments the basic approach, the basic analysis, the basic conceptual frame of this book still apply today-its discussion of basic institutions; of the role and limits of management; of the need for individual independence and yet also of community within the institutions of a developed society; of labor as a resource, the first such in the literature; and so on.

And perhaps it is relevant to report that The New Society was the first of the author's books to have major impact on Japan, in its discussion of the role and function of profit, management, and, above all, of labor as a resource and of the need to create a plant-community.

It is still considered in Japan to have been the guide to the restructuring of Japanese industry; to the development of modern Japanese management; and, above all, to the radical reform in the 'fifties' of Japan's employment and labor policies and practices.

Peter F. Drucker
Claremont, California

Peter Drucker: Conceptual Resources

The Über Mentor

A political / social ecologist
a different way of seeing and thinking about
the big picture
— lead to his top-of-the-food-chain reputation

drucker business week

about Management (a shock to the system)


“I am not a ‘theoretician’; through my consulting practice I am in daily touch with the concrete opportunities and problems of a fairly large number of institutions, foremost among them businesses but also hospitals, government agencies and public-service institutions such as museums and universities.

And I am working with such institutions on several continents: North America, including Canada and Mexico; Latin America; Europe; Japan and South East Asia.” — PFD




List of his books


Large combined outline of Drucker’s books — useful for topic searching.




High tech is living in the nineteenth century,
the pre-management world.
They believe that people pay for technology.
They have a romance with technology.
But people don't pay for technology:
they pay for what they get out of technology.” —
The Frontiers of Management


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




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