Claremont’s Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito’s Meeting of the Minds

Peter F. Drucker Graduate School

The relationship between the namesakes of the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito School of Business at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) began as a meeting between client and consultant. But it soon grew into a friendship that spanned over three decades, and which inspired each of them.

Founded in 1925, the advanced studies program at CGU is the country’s oldest all-graduate educational institution. Peter F. Drucker has been described as a ‘visionary’ who influenced management practice and theory throughout his life. The author of thirty nine books, Drucker was an expert on the ways in which organizations operate.

In his early career in Germany, he worked as a journalist before earning his doctorate in international law in 1931. He then relocated to London where he worked in both the insurance and banking industries.

Drucker saw great promise for opportunities overseas, and he became a United States citizen in 1943.  He then earned a professorship in philosophy and politics at Bennington College in 1942, where he taught for seven years before receiving an appointment at New York University, where he would teach management for the following two decades.

Peter F. Drucker

Peter F. Drucker

Over the course of his academic career, Drucker found time to serve as both a business consultant and a freelance writer. He held a great interest in the human relationships that composed organizations as opposed to the numbers behind successful businesses. Early in his career he published a definitive study of General Motors, entitled Concept of the Corporation.

In 1971, Drucker relocated to California and set out to develop the MBA program at what was then called Claremont Graduate School. The program later evolved to become the first in the country for working professionals pursuing their executive MBA. Peter F. Drucker went on to develop the Drucker School of Management, which was named in his honor in 1987.

Known for his interdisciplinary approach, Dr. Drucker drew on his knowledge of culture, religion, politics, and philosophy throughout his professional life. His management theories got the attention of the Japanese business leaders, particularly during the post-World War II period, when the country’s economic leaders found the need to rebuild and reinvent.

Drucker would hold an affinity for the country in the years to come. His influence even found its way into Japanese pop culture, when in 2010, a fictional book was published (and later turned into an anime comic) that touted Drucker’s management theories.

Masatoshi Ito is the founder of international retail organization the Ito-Yokado Group, which began as a small clothing store in Tokyo and grew into the world’s second largest retailer. The group is the owner of thousands of 7-Eleven stores in both Japan and North America in addition to a multitude of other restaurants, supermarkets, and department stores.


Masatoshi Ito

Drucker and Ito met in the realm of business, when Drucker consulted for Ito’s firm. From there, a friendship soon grew, and the two would meet regularly both to strategize and to share stories.

“Whenever Mr. Ito was in this country or when I was in Japan, I spent an afternoon or a day or a long evening with him… He credits me, quite undeservedly, with a lot of his success.” Drucker has said.

Masatoshi Ito was advised by Drucker to keep his numerous businesses ‘medium sized’, in order to increase efficiency and to limit rapid expansion, which would become unwieldy. This plan, noted Drucker, was “phenomenally successful”.

Ito earned great respect for not only Dr. Drucker’s consultation, but also for his academic work at CGU.  Over the years, Ito has donated $23 million to the school.  His support funded the construction of the business school’s main building, and it continues to enable the school to execute its strategic plan.

Junro, Ito’s son, earned his MBA from CGU in 1989, and he is an active participant in Japan’s CGU alumni chapter.


About the Author

Maggie Boccella

Maggie Boccella, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, is a freelance writer, artist and photographer. She has consulted on various film and multimedia projects, and she also serves as a juror for the city's annual LGBTQIA Film Festival.

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