I went to a business school in 1949 because it was the only place where I would be allowed to teach management, which nobody had taught before. It was new, an invention. And I went [for] management because it was the only discipline in which I could apply all the liberal arts... Management deals with the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of the devil -- not necessarily in that order.
I published the first book on general management, which was Concept of the Corporation, and I wrote it simply because I needed one, and nobody had written one. Thatís what makes a writer: He writes books because he needs to.
They didnít know what to do with me. I was teaching philosophy and religion and I was a political scientist -- and, at the risk of shocking you, I was in line for President of the American Political Science Association. Not that I was terribly interested -- Iím not an association man.
The old gentleman who reviewed [Concept] in the American Political Science Review had been a kind of sponsor of mine in the discipline. He was really angry with me for taking management seriously and concluded his review with the words, "It is to be hoped that the next book of this promising young scholar will address itself to a respectable topic."
The political scientist didnít know what to do with management [as a new field of study]. Yet it was almost impossible to study any other institution in those days. You couldnít get in. Just try to study a university. Just try to study a government agency. No documents. But business always publishes in annual reports. The only reason I studied business was that I managed to get in at GM.
And, for economists, my book also made no sense. It was about business, but it did not talk about prices and supply and demand and costs, but rather about management. My publisher published my book just because my first two books had been successful. He felt he had to publish me...
And Lewis Jones, President at Bennington where I was teaching, the one man who said this book is going to be popular, also said: "Peter, this is the end of your academic career. Economists and political scientists wonít have anything to do with you." And he was absolutely right. But even business schools didnít want to have much to do with me. Harvard wanted me to teach Human Relations.
NYU [New York University] was the one place that said, "We want you," that I could talk them into management in the late Ď40s, 1949. It was the one place where you could do it because in terms of traditional academic disciplines it was not "economics" when you talked about treating people, organizing them, and promoting them, and making decisions; and it sure was not political science because you didnít discuss a government.
Management did not belong in the business school of 1950 [where] you had people of 22, 23 years of age, because basically management is wasted on them. You know? They wonít be in a position to use it for another five to 10 years, and by that time things evaporate. It never gets into the long memory if you donít use it. And in those days that was the one reason why it fit NYU -- because it was an evening school and fundamentally 70% mid-career students. And so you talk to people to whom this has an operational meaning.
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