Luther Gulick

Luther Gulick was born in Osaka, Japan in 1892. He was educated at Columbia University. During the First World War he served the National Defence Council and served as the administrator of New York city during 1954-56. He served as consultant in several countries and also served as professor in several universities. Along with Lyndall Urwick, he edited “Papers on the Science of Administration” in 1937.

Lyndall Urwick

Lyndall Urwick was born in Britain in 1891 and was educated in Oxford University. He served in the army during the First World War and was consultant in industrial management.

Both Gulick and Urwick had a rich experience of serving in civil service, military and the industrial enterprises as well. This distinction of serving both in public administration and business administration was one of the unique characteristics of Gulick and Urwick. They were influenced by Taylor while enunciating their principles of organization. They believed that based on the experience of administrators and the empirical facts it was possible to develop a science of administration.

Gulick gave ten principles of organization. These are:


  • Bases of departmental organization.
  • Division of Work or Specialization.
  • Co-ordination though hierarchy.
  • Deliberate co-ordination
  • Co-ordination through committees
  • Decentralization
  • Delegation
  • Unity of Command
  • Span of Control
  • Line and Staff

Gulick also identified seven important elements of administration. He coined an acronym “POSDCORB” to illustrate these functional elements. POSDCORB stand for planning, organising, staffing, directing, co-ordinating, reporting and budgeting.

These are explained below:

  • Planning – Planning refers to the estimation of human and material resources available to the organization to achieve the organizational objectives with economy and efficiency.
  • Organization – Organization is the structure of administration which operationalizes the various activities.
  • Staffing – It refers to the personnel aspects such as recruitment, appointment, promotion, discipline, retirement etc. It is one of the most important functions to achieve the organizational objectives.
  • Directing – It refers to the orders issued by the managers to subordinates directing the activities of the administration.
  • Coordinating – It means securing co-operation and teamwork between the various units and among the employees.
  • Reporting – Through reporting the management keeps itself informed about the various activities going on in the organization. It may take corrective measures based on this feedback.
  • Budgeting – This covers the entire field of financial administration. As finances are the life-blood of any organization, this function of budgeting is indispensable to the functioning of any organization.

Like the POSDCORD of Gulick, Urwick enunciated his eight principles of administration.

These are:

  • The principle of objective
  • The principle of correspondence
  • The principle of responsibility
  • The scalar principle
  • The principle of span of control
  • The principle of specialization
  • The principle of coordination
  • The principle of definition

 Besides the above principles some of the other important principles given by them are explained below:

1. The Theory of Departmentalization

Luther Gulick identified four bases on which different departments are created. These are: Purpose, Process, Persons and Place. These bases are called four P’s of Gulick. These are described as under:

Purpose: The functions and goals of the organization can be a criterion for creating departments in any organization. For example, welfare department, sanitation department etc. are the departments created for some specific purposes. Co-ordination becomes quite easy in such type of departments. However there may be some disadvantages also in such a classification. These are: problems faced during division of work, lack of opportunities various specialists etc.

Process or Skills: Processes or skills involved in the functioning of the department can be other criterion for creating departments. All the works involving same knowledge, skills and processes may be grouped together and can form a department. Such department can undertake activities which are required by other departments as well. Hence it saves time and energy of other departments also to do the similar kinds of things e. g. the O & M division of Department of Administrative Reforms in Government of India undertakes the function of monitoring methods of work of the various departments and recommends changes in it.

Persons or Clientele: Departments may also be created according to the clientele served by them e. g. the old age welfare department serves clients of old age only. The major advantage of such types of departments is that the personnel working in such departments acquire skills in dealing with a particular clientele. Women, handicapped, children etc. can be some other forms of clientele on the basis of which particular departments could be created. The major disadvantage of such departments is the overlapping and duplication in their functioning.

Place or Territory: It is one of the most important bases of departmentalization. District or tribal areas or hilly areas could be some of the bases of creating new departments. All the functions created in a area are clubbed together. This is helpful in intensive development of the area and promotes area specialization as well as the co-ordination.

The above bases of departments have been criticized on the ground that they are incompatible with each other. Some of the bases are overlapping e. g. the engineering department could be classified as process based as well as purpose based. Further in governmental agencies the nature of processes is sometimes so complex that it may not be possible in every case to classify the different activities in terms of such simplistic bases.

 2. Unity of Direction

This principle favours one executive or head should lead the organization. Urwick was against the use of committees for purposes of administration as they were slow, wasteful and ineffective. According to him well managed administrative agencies were always headed by a single administrator. In such a case problem of co-ordination does not arise.

3. Unity of Command

Gulick and Fayol were of the same view regarding this principle. According to Fayol “a man cannot serve two masters”. Lot of uncertainty, confusion and irresponsibilities can arise due to violation of this principle. However Gulick is aware of dual control in some of the field offices and suggests a framework of ‘integrated dual supervision’ in such cases.

4. The Principle of Staff

This principle states that in the performance of organization activities the support of staff of large number of officials is necessary. There can be two types of staff: special staff and general staff. The general staff assists the chief executive in mainly planning functions while the specialist staff helps in carrying out the specialized tasks. Gulick took the idea of staff from military’s concept of line and staff. Staff officials help in relieving the chief executive from the unnecessary burden of work and to concentrate on the main priorities of the organization.

5. The Principle of Span of Control

This principle states that a supervisor cannot control more than an optimum no of workers at a time. To Urwick this optimum no is five to six. When the number of sub- ordinates increases arithmetically then the number of relationships increases geometrically. This shows that at supervisory levels there remains a problem of managing the sub-ordinates.

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