Luther Halsey Gulick

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Luther Halsey Gulick

Birthdate: (101)
Death: 1993 (101)
Immediate Family:

Son of Sidney Lewis Gulick and Cara May Gulick
Brother of Sidney Lewis Gulick, Jr.

Occupation: Director of the Institute of Public Administration
Managed by: Gene Daniell
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Luther Halsey Gulick

Luther Halsey Gulick (1892–1993) was an expert on public administration.


Luther Halsey Gulick was born January 17, 1892 in Osaka, Japan. His father was congregationalist missionary Sidney Lewis Gulick (1860–1945) and his mother was Clara May (Fisher) Gulick. He shared his name with his grandfather, missionary Luther Halsey Gulick Sr. (1828–1891), and uncle physician Luther Halsey Gulick Jr. (1865–1918). His great-grandfather was an even earlier missionary to the Kingdom of Hawaii, Peter Johnson Gulick (1796–1877).

Luther Gulick graduated from Oberlin College in 1914 and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1920. He taught at Columbia from 1931-1942. In 1921 he became president of the Institute of Public Administration and served until 1962. He then became its chairman and served until 1982. From 1936-1938 he served on a three member panel appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to reorganize the executive branch of the federal government. From 1954 to 1956, he served as city administrator of New York City.

Among many other accomplishments in the field of public administration, Gulick is perhaps best known for the functions of the executive represented in the acronym PODSCORB (or POSDCORB depending on the source). Each letter stands for Planning, Organizing, Directing, Staffing, Coordinating, Reporting and Budgeting.

Gulick's advocacy (with Alvin Hansen) during World War II of Keynesian policies to promote full employment post-war helped to persuade John Maynard Keynes to help develop post-war plans for the international economy that included considerable emphasis on free trade.

In a time where the prevalent theme was the separation of politics and administration, Gulick advocated that it was impossible to separate the two.

Gulick in his recent writings (publication made after his highly famous Papers on the Science of Administration edited along with Lyndall Urwick in 1937) has noted that much has happened to affect the field of public administration and his analysis of his nature since he edited the Papers on the Science of Administration fifty years ago. Based upon fifty years of his analysis, he notes that "after all, governments are constituted of human beings, are run by human beings and have as their main job helping, controlling and serving human beings." He considers human beings as the major and essential variables for understanding the nature of Public Administration today and guiding the field into the future. On this foundation, he identifies as to how human beings constitute the dynamic factors that are intrinsic in the study of administration.

Gulick emphasizes that the main function of the state should be human welfare, survival and improvement to meet the challenges of every changing environment and not war. But unfortunately, the structure of the modern state is specifically designed for war. As a result, the structure of the modern state is distinctly military. It is authoritative, with all authority, concentrated at the top, and all the work, but not the authority, assigned to subordinate echelons and field commanders. He emphasizes the need for a new approach to the fundamental organization of the state introducing greater decentralization in place of present centralized, hierarchical, military structure. He also suggests that the Public Administration should forget the non-existing economic man, deal realistically with the non-existing free market and include human welfare and compassion in its embrace.

He also talks that time is the crucial factor in every event and that all public policy innovations are rooted in timing and in democracy timing is the hallmark of the statecraft. But he laments that time has been a neglected factor in Public Administration. Time as an input, as an output, time as the flow of events, time as a gap between two or more significant events or processes and finally, timing as a management policy, are the different aspects of time identified by him. It means that the principles of management of administration should be eternally tied to the culture in which they arise, and that the culture must evolve appropriately well before major changes in human organization can be achieved. Timing is essential for any organization as it is not a machine but an organism.

He died January 10, 1993 in Greensboro, Vermont. His first wife Helen Swift died in 1969. His second wife, Carol W. Moffett, died in 1989. He had two children, Luther Halsey Gulick Jr. and Clarence Gulick.

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Luther Halsey Gulick's Timeline

Age 101