Dan Throop Smith

American economist and professor of business administration

Dan Throop Smith (Nov. 20, 1907 - May 29, 1982) was an American economist, Professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and administrator at the Eisenhower and Nixon Administrations, and known as tax policy expert.


  • I'm a professor all right. But I was always violently anti-New Deal.
    • Dan Throop Smith starting at Harvard in 1930, as cited in: Ronald Sullivan. "Dan T. Smith Dies; Tax Policy Expert," in: New York Times, June 2, 1982

"Education for Administration." 1945


Dan Throop Smith: "Education for Administration." Harvard Business Review, Spring 1945, vol. 3.

  • We usually think of an individual doing administrative work not as an administrator, but as a businessman, an Army officer, or a civil servant. More specifically, we think of him, if he is a businessman, as a merchant, a production man, a sales manager, or a financial expert; while the Army officer may be a company commander, a staff officer, or a tactician; and the civil servant, a diplomat, a postmaster, or a revenue collector. It is true that all of these jobs involve administration: yet each of them is intimately bound up with a more or less specialized subject matter and it does not follow that a good production man win make a good diplomat or company commander.
  • Although good administrators are not necessarily interchangeable, there appear to be certain recurring aspects of administrative work to which attention may be profitably directed.
  • It may be that the process of education can do no more than make a man aware of the need for making decisions and taking action, and of the advantages of doing so wisely and with good judgment. But even that, though it can be expressed in a sentence, is manifested in many different ways that its full development and the appreciation of it may be a lengthy process. Can a formal educational process assist students to develop facility in making and implementing wise decisions in administrative matters? There are many aphorisms about the advantages of self-education, the dangers of the theorist with his learning and lack of common sense, and the value of experience as the best teacher. Certainly. it is difficult to match, with formal education, the wisdom that comes from experience. It may be noted, however, that experience may lead to a lack of mental flexibility in meeting new situations; an experienced but opinionated man is as ineffective as one with a formalized doctrinaire approach.
  • Though it is possible to develop various principles of administration by generalizing from particular cases, the resulting abstractions seem to have little significance. The process of administration involves action requiring the application of any given principle in infinitely varying actual situations. In brief, administration is an art requiring skill, practice, and judgment. However much it can be analyzed in the abstract, it becomes manifest only in specific concrete situations. In fact, the best administrators may have difficulty in relating their actions to explicit principles; the fully developed skill will most often lead to quasi-intuitive action without a conscious frame of reference or checklist of points to be considered.

Quotes about Dan Throop Smith

  • Dan Throop Smith [was] one of the nation's leading tax experts and the principal architect of the present Internal Revenue Code... Professor Smith belonged to an elite group of economists who switched back and forth from top academic positions at Harvard, Stanford and other major universities to policy-making positions in Government. He was generally regarded as a conservative economist.
When he first arrived in Washington in 1953 to take a Treasury Department position in the Eisenhower Administration, Professor Smith told an interviewer, "I'm a professor all right. But I was always violently anti-New Deal." In his teaching career, which began at Harvard in 1930, he said he had never "been an egalitarian" and had never "shared the bias of many economists toward Government intervention."
  • Ronald Sullivan. "Dan T. Smith Dies; Tax Policy Expert," in: New York Times, June 2, 1982