Peter Drucker's innumeracy

Here's an example of the sloppy thinking behind Peter Drucker's Post-Capitalist Society.

The following are the first paragraphs from the section entitled ``Is labor still an asset?'' in Chapter 3:

American manufacturing production remained almost unchanged as a perecentage of gross national product in the years of the ``manufacturing decline.'' It stood at 22 percent of GNP in 1975, and at 23 percent in 1990. During those twenty years, gross national product increased two and a half times. In other words, total American manufacturing production grew more than two and a half times in those twenty years.
Well, by my calculation, 1990 is 15 years after 1975, not 20.
But manufacturing employment did not increase at all. On the contrary, manufacturing employment went down from 1960 to 1990 as a percentage of the work force and even in absolute numbers. It fell by almost half in these thirty years, from 25 percent of the total labor force in 1960 to 16 or 17 percent in 1990.
That would be 1/3, not 1/2. Ok, so he said ``almost half'', but really...
During this time, the total American work force doubled---the largest increase ever recorded by any country in peacetime. All the increase was, however, in jobs other than making and moving things.
Taking the lower 16% estimate of the new manufacturing jobs rate, we have 2*16/25=1.28, which is significantly larger than 1. Egads, a 28% increase in manufacturing jobs!

Now tell me, would you trust him to prepare your tax return?

Hey. At least he gave us the numbers. The reviews on the back of the book take on new meaning in light of the above innumeracy, and the conclusions that follow from it.

``Peter Drucker's perceptions of the trends and forces at work shaping society today and tomorrow not only fascinate and instruct but may be ignored only at our peril.''
-- Walter B. Wriston, Former Chairman, Citicorp
Indeed. Ignored at our peril because so many will swallow Drucker's writings whole.
``This one-of-a-kind thinker...can arrest our attention with observations that flavor the sweep of history.''
-- Adam Smith, New York Times Business Review
[Adam Smith!!! He must be old.]
Back to David Neto's books page: policy, economy, society
Back to David Neto's books page Back to David Neto's home page