Retrofitting Drucker: knowledge work under cognitive capitalism



Publication Details

Peters, M. A. & Reveley, J. (2014). Retrofitting Drucker: Knowledge work under cognitive capitalism. Culture and Organization, 20 (2), 135-151.


This article uses Peter Drucker’s work vector-like, to carry the thesis of cognitive capitalism into the management field. Drucker’s prophetic insights into the knowledge society are juxtaposed with recent, Italian autonomist Marxistinspired analyses of capitalism’s cognitive phase. If the capacity to create knowledge – or what autonomists call the ‘general intellect’ – is becoming the key productive force, arguably there is a need for a full-blown social form of knowledge management. Our reading of Drucker thus retrieves the one worthwhile thing from the rubble of normative knowledge management. It is the idea of society-level knowledge management premised on a universal and unconditional guaranteed basic income (GBI; or social wage). Basic income represents not just a social investment in knowledge, which Drucker himself called for, but also compensation for biolabour’s augmented social productivity. With Drucker as the steppingstone, we conclude, the autonomist tradition merits greater attention from critical management and organisational scholars interested in factoring class and gender back into the knowledge management equation.

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