Peter Drucker's article in the Atlantic Monthly

Subject: Peter Drucker's article in the Atlantic Monthly
From: "USA::MU17692" <MU17692%USA -dot- decnet -at- USAV01 -dot- GLAXO -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 1994 20:56:00 EST

My esteemed colleagues,

I exhort all of my technical communicator colleagues,
around the world, to read Peter Drucker's article,
"The Age of Social Transformation" in the November
1994 issue of _The Atlantic Monthly_. I especially
recommend it to anyone currently in graduate school.

For those of you who do not know who Peter Drucker is,
let me say that many of the world's top corporate
leaders view him as a management demigod. Drucker
claims to have coined the term "Knowledge Workers"
in his 1959 book _Landmarks of Tomorrow_.

Drucker starts the article off by describing the
evolution of the worker, starting with the farmer
and domestic servant through to the blue-collar
worker and up the "knowledge worker." He then goes
onto describe what a knowledge worker is and in what
kind of environment *we* work.

Let me quote from the article in an attempt to
pique your interest:

Increasingly, an educated person will be someone
who has learned how to learn, and who continues
learning, especially by formal education,
throughout his or her lifetime. (pp. 66-67)

The knowledge society will inevitably become far
more competitive than any society we have yet
known...There will be no "poor" countries.
There will only be ignorant countries...In fact,
developed societies have already become
infinitely more competitive for individuals than
were the societies of the beginning of this
century, let alone earlier ones. (p. 68)

The central work force in the knowledge society
will therefore consist of highly specialized
people. In fact, it is a mistake to speak of
"generalists." (p. 68)

It [the knowledge society] demands for the
first time in history that people with
knowldege take responsibility for making
themselves understood by people who do not
have the same knowledge base. (p. 68)

Perhaps more important, in the knowledge
society the employees--that is, knowledge
workers--own the tools of production. Marx's
great insight was that the factory worker does
not and cannot own the tools of production,
and therefore is "alienated."...Increasingly,
the true investment in the knowledge society
is not in machines and tools but in the
knowledge of the knowledge worker. (p. 71)

In the knowledge society the most probable
assumption for organizations--and certainly
the assumption on which they have to conduct
their affairs--is that they need knowledge
workers far more than knowledge workers need
them. (p. 71)

That knowledge has become the key resource
means that there is a world economy, and that
the world economy, rather than the national
economy, is in control. (p. 76)

There is no domestic knowledge and no inter-
national knowledge. There is only knowledge.
(p. 77)

It [knowledge] cannot be bought or sold. The
fruits of knowledge, such as the income from
a patent, can be bought or sold; the knowledge
that went into the patent cannot be conveyed
at any price...The acquisition of knowledge
has a cost, as has the acquisition of anything.
But the acquisition has no price. (p. 78)

Drucker says a lot of what we already know, but it's
reassuring to realize that we are not alone in this
terribly competitive environment. I found his article
encouraging. There is a bright future for skilled,
ambitious technical communicators.

Have fun reading Drucker's article.

-Mike Uhl (uhl~m -at- glaxo -dot- com)
Glaxo Inc. Research Institute
Research Triangle Park, NC [USA]

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