The Drucker Approach to Supply Chain

Based at Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker-Ito School of Management in Claremont, California, the Center for Supply Chain and Logistics launched in 2015. Its curriculum and research agenda have been shaped by the teachings of management guru Peter Drucker, a figure regarded as among the most influential in forging the mechanics of the modern business culture.

Drucker viewed management as a philosophy, one encompassing psychology and sociology, and as a discipline that required a holistic approach centered on creativity, the value of people, and the societal implications of a business’s activities. He developed such concepts as the knowledge worker, the employee whose value is based on intellect and creativity—and management by objectives—a collaborative approach to goal-setting in which managers and workers partner in strategy creation. Drucker held that business had a responsibility to positively affect society and viewed profit not as a primary motivator but as a by-product of innovation.

“We bring the Drucker philosophy to [supply chain and logistics], in terms of management, leadership, and people skills,” said Thomas Horan, dean of the Drucker-Ito School. “What the center brings to the equation are the management issues surrounding supply chain and logistics. Our take is how to deal with [the discipline]holistically.”

Offering graduate degrees in supply chain and logistics, the center provides coursework stressing Drucker-influenced management approaches, public policy, and data-driven strategy development. Partnerships with the likes of Disney, Toyota, and UPS provide real-world opportunities for students to examine supply chain challenges and innovations. And, in the Drucker tradition, the program emphasizes working in ways that benefit society.

“When you look at supply chain,” Horan said, “it exposes huge human value of people getting [goods]. It isn’t just about technical aspects and logistics but is also about the value to both companies and communities. It’s a great set of dots to connect.”