Lyndall Urwick and Luther Gulick did an edition of a publication titled, Papers on the Science of Administration in1937, which consisted of articles on organizational theory and public administration. Gulick isolated the responsibilities of the chief executive and enumerated them in accordance with the acronym POSDCORB, which stands for planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting. One of his main points was that well-managed or self-contained organizations are nearly always headed by a single top manager such as a CEO (Gulick, 1936). Urwick on the other hand argues that the activities required for realizing the goals of an organization should be grouped and allotted to persons in an impersonal way. In addition, Urwick also put in writing; the problems associated with the management of a huge numbers of employees and employed a formula to help him find out the least and highest number of subordinates a manager can manage effectively (Urwick, 1933). This paper focuses on the Gulick and Urwick organizational theories, how they are applicable in the hospital setting as well as in the decision making process.
In the Notes on the Theory of Organization, Gulick describes the POSDCORB principles by arguing that if the work load of an executive becomes too much and overpowering, some of the POSDCORB elements can be organized as the executive’s subdivision based on the size and the difficulty of the work (Gulick, 1936). In relation to organizing, Gulick emphasized on division of labor and specialization to help increase efficiency. However, he says that there are disadvantages associated with division of labor. For instance, when division of labor results in a tasks requiring lesser time than the full time an employee is supposed to work, such that a worker may have to be assigned to other tasks to occupy his remaining time. Another limitation arises in a case where some tasks can only be handled by some workers because of lack of technological knowledge and experience at the time.
According to Urwick (1933), there are four ways of organizing specialized workers i.e. based on the purpose the employees are serving, the processes used by the workers, the materials or clients they are dealing with as well as their place of work. It is important to recognize the fact that the above modes of organizing workers can often cross one another, forming a complicated and interconnected organizational structure where organizations such as schools will include workers and professionals even outside the education field such as doctors, secretaries, janitors etc.
There are two methods that are useful in achieving coordination of divided labor for instance by placing employees to work under managers who coordinate their work as well as by developing a clear idea of what needs to be done in every worker, after which each worker suits his or her work to the needs of the whole organization.
According to Gulick (1936), the number of employees that that a single manager can effectively handle depend on factors such as space, specialization of employees, organizational stability and whether the manager is from a similar area of specialty. Though Gulick does not give a definite number of employees that can be effectively controlled by a manager, the numbers three to six have been suggested by people such as Ian Hamilton and Urwick. The emphasis on the theory of unity of command is also essential to enable every employee to have one direct boss in order to avoid inefficiency and confusion (Urwick, 1956). Gulick and Urwick emphasize the need to differentiate between the operational components (the doers) within an organization and the coordinating components (the thinkers and planners).
In a hospital setting, the Gulick and Urwick Organizational theory can be applied by allocating works according to the area of specialization of employees for example; doctors should treat patients, while nurses should be charged with taking care of patients. That way cases whereby nurses prescribe wrong drugs to patients can be avoided. The consequences of such actions are detrimental; for instance severe effect on patient’s health or even death. In conclusion, Gulick and Urwick’s Organizational theory can be applied in decision making process of an organization by recruiting only the number of employees that a manager can effectively control hence saving costs as well as reducing cases where some workers do not work as required because of lack of supervision.