Drucker, women and the dugout

For those of you who missed it, the Economist picked up on a phenomenon in Japan worthy of notice. One of the hottest books of the year (it is said) titled What if the Female Manager of a High-School Baseball Team read Drucker’s ‘Management’ has been jumping off the shelves. (Over one million sold…)

The unlikely catalyst for this cultish enthusiasm is a fictional teenager called Minami. Like many high-school girls in Japan, she becomes the gofer for the baseball team’s male coach. Unlike many of her compatriots, she is the kind of girl, as the book says, who leaps before she looks. Horrified by the team’s lack of ambition, she sets it the goal of reaching the high-school championships. She stumbles upon Drucker’s 1973 book, and it helps her turn the rabble into a team.

Peter would have loved this. Despite the use of “man” and “he” in earlier books, he later regretted the gender exclusive language. (In the fifties this is how books were) His good friend Joe Maciariello addressed this in the revision of the Management book.

The author of Drucker’s one thing observed that:

In most of these occasions when the gender issue came up, two things struck me. First, he greatly admired the women in his classes, and those with whom he associated in his professional life, and was more than willing to vocalize it. He spoke, not only in classes, but also to me personally of how amazed he was by the women he knew. He saw that we carried a hefty load – seeking to accomplish good things by volunteering with nonprofit organizations, working hard to find success in our careers, and expanding our education while serving our families as best we could. He worried out loud, however – about whether we would be able to handle it all and  what we would need to let go of.

It should be no surprise that years after his death, his legacy includes Minami. In Japan, “women remain an underused asset: only 61% of them work, their average income is less than half that of men and they occupy barely 1% of boardroom seats.” In a recent HBR blog, the author asks “What books should Asian leaders read?” (to prepare for an event associated with the World Economic Forum’s “summer Davos gathering”).

My recommendation is What if the Female Manager of a High-School Baseball Team read Drucker’s ‘Management’.

About Wes Balda
Dr. Wes Balda is President of the Simeon Institute and prior Executive Director of the Oregon Business Institute at the University of Oregon. He also led the Centre for Advancing International Management [AIM Centre] and was Professor of Management at St. George’s University. Previously he was Dean of a School of Management in Oregon, and Director of Executive and PhD Programs at The Drucker School, Claremont Graduate University.