October 22, 2011

Notes on the Theory of Organization (Luther Gulick)

Presented by J. B Nangpuhan II (MPA Student) to Dr. C. G. Song, Professor of Public Administration at Chonnam National University, South Korea under 'introduction to public administration'. Date presented: 06Oct2010.
Luther Gulick considers division of work as the foundation of the organization and the reason to form it. Other compelling reasons of work division are the following:
a.       Human nature – Men differ in nature, capacity and skill, and gain greatly in dexterity by specialization;
b.      Time – The same man cannot be at two places at the same time; and 
c.       Space – The range of knowledge and skill is so great that a man cannot within his life-span know more than a small fraction of it.

To illustrate further, a shoe factory having 1,000 men working on shoe-making have to do these procedures: leather cutting, eyelets stamping, sewing the tops, sewing the soles, nailing the heels, inserting the laces, and packing the shoes. If each man will do all the procedures alone, there will be 500 pairs of shoes to be produced in one day. But if the men will be divided to work on each procedure, the number of production will be twice as many in a day. This is because it makes possible the better utilization of the varying skills and aptitudes of the different workmen and encourages the development of specialization. It also eliminates the time that is lost when a workman turns from a knife, to a punch, to a needle and awl, to a hammer, and moves from table to bench, to anvil to stool.
The introduction of machinery accentuates the division of work. Specialized skills are developed not only in connection with machines and tools but also on the nature of materials handled (e.g. wood). They also arise in activities which center in a complicated series of interrelated concepts, principles, and techniques. These are most clearly recognized in the professions involving application of scientific knowledge like engineering, medicine, chemistry, law, ministry, teaching, and other fields.
THE LIMITS OF DIVISION – there are three clear limitations in which the division of labor cannot to advantage go:
a. The volume of work involve in man-hours. This is about the working hours of a worker in an organization whether part-time or full-time.
b. The technology and custom at a given time and place. In a church for example, custody and cleaning is by custom the work of the sexton.
c.  The subdivision of work must not pass beyond physical division into organic division. In the case of a cow, you cannot let front half of the body to be in the pasture grazing and the other half in the barn being milked.
However, there is an element of reasoning in a circle that will test whether an activity is organic or not and whether it is divisible or not.
It is axiomatic that the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. In dividing up any “whole”, be certain that every part, including unseen elements and relationships, is accounted for. An illustration in building a house could be done better through the presence of an architect who will make the plan so that division of labor is properly disseminated to the workers. In this way, each skilled worker could know what to do and when to do it. It will also reduce spoilage of materials and the time spent in building the house will be reduced. Letting only one man to do all the work will just be a menace.
The more the work is subdivided, the greater is the need of overall supervision and co-ordination. Co-ordination must be won by intelligent, vigorous, persistent and organized effort.
II.      THE COORDINATION OF WORK - Coordination of work can be achieved in two ways:
1.       By organization – by interrelating the subdivisions of work by allotting them to men who are placed in a structure of authority, so that the work may be co-ordinated by orders of superiors to subordinates, reaching from top to the bottom of the entire enterprise.
2.       By dominance of an idea – this requires the development of intelligent singleness of purpose in the minds and wills of those who are working together as a group, so that each worker will of his own accord fit his task into the whole with skill and enthusiasm.
These two principles of coordination should both be utilized to be effective. Size and time are the great limiting factors in the development of co-ordination. The question of coordination must be approached with different emphasis in small and in large enterprises; in simple and in complex situations; in stable and in new or changing organizations.
Organization as a way of co-ordination requires the establishment of authority with an objective of enterprise is translated into reality through the combined efforts of many specialists, each working in his own field at a particular time and space. There is a need to establish a single executive authority in the organization. Here are some steps in building up between the executive at the center and the subdivisions of work on the periphery:
1.                   Define the job to be done, such as the furnishing of pure water to all of the people and industries within a given area at the lowest possible cost;
2.                   Provide a director to see that the objective is realized;
3.                   Determine the nature and number of individualized and specialized work units into which the job will have to be divided based on the organization’s size and status of technological and social development at a given time; and
4.       Establish and perfect the structure of authority between the director and the ultimate work subdivisions.
The fourth step is the central concern of the theory of organization. It is the function of the organization to enable the director to co-ordinate and energize all of the sub-divisions of work so that the major objective may be achieved efficiently.
The span of control depends on the element of diversification of function, element of time, and element of space. Based on previous research studies, the chief executive of an organization can deal with only a few immediate subordinates. The number of subordinates is determined by the nature of the work, the nature of the executive, and the size and function of the organization.
“A man cannot serve two masters” is considered a theological argument because it was already accepted as a principle of human relation in everyday life. In administration, the principle of “unity of command” will prove that a workman subject to order from several superiors will be confused, inefficient, and irresponsible; but a workman subject to orders from one superior may be methodical, efficient, and responsible. Unity of command refers to those who are commanded, not to those who issue the commands.
One efficient concept for this is the principle of homogeneity (similarity). The group must be unified by the work they perform, the processes they utilize, and should have the same purpose. In single unit work divisions which are non-homogeneous in work, in technology, or in purpose will encounter danger of friction and inefficiency. In the same manner, a unit based on a given specialization cannot be given technical direction by a layman.
This means that technical experts, sometimes, assume knowledge and authority in fields where they have no competence. Professionals consider themselves as having the profound sense of omniscience but they have their limitations. The true place of experts is “on tap, not on top.” The essential validity of democracy rests upon this philosophy, the common man is the final judge of what is good for him. Efficiency makes life of a man richer and safer. That efficiency will be secured more through the use of technical specialists to establish control but not to do supervisory control. A government which ignores the conditions of efficiency cannot expect to achieve efficiency.
In any practical situation, the problem of organization must be approached from both top (system of subdividing the enterprise under the chief executive) and bottom (system of combining individual units into aggregates). In planning the first subdivisions under the chief executive, the principle of the limitation of the span of control must apply. In building up the first aggregates of specialized functions, the principle of homogeneity must apply. This process is illustrated by the reorganization plan of the City of New York through the Charter Commission of 1934 with the help of the author. The plan was to reduce the number of departments from 60 to 25 with three or four assistant mayors to organize and rationalize the executive function as such that it may be more adequate in a complicated situation.
The work of the executive is POSDCORB.
Planning – working out in broad outline the things that need to be done and the methods for doing them to accomplish the purpose set for the enterprise;
Organizing – establishment of the formal structure of authority through which the work subdivisions are arranged, define, and coordinated for the defined objective;
Staffing – the whole personnel function of bringing in and training the staff and maintaining favorable conditions of work;
Directing – continuous task of making decisions and embodying them in specific and general orders and instructions and serving as the leader of the enterprise;
Co-ordinating – all important duty of interrelating the various parts of the work;
Reporting – keeping the executive informed as to what is going on through records, research, and inspection;
Budgeting – this is in the form of fiscal planning, accounting and control.
If these seven elements may be accepted as the major duties of the chief executive, it follows that they may be separately organized as subdivisions of the executive. The need for such division depends entirely on the size and complexity of the enterprise. In large enterprises, if the chief executive is unable to do all the work, one or more parts of the POSDCORB may be suborganized.

[1] Korean Association for Public Administration (1980). Selected Readings in Public Administration. South Korea: Da San Publishing Company. 89-103



Very useful for my law studies. I can easily understand than study my books.

paissues said...

that's nice to hear... keep up!

Unknown said...

I love the material... Very useful in my MPA studies

Unknown said...


Lokpa tamang said...

Please deal with all the ten principles