Span of Control

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What is Span of Control? Meaning.

Span of Control is the number of people/subordinates that can be effectively managed by one manager. It is an organizational theory term that refers to how relationships are structured between leaders and subordinates in organizations. A wide span of control exists when a person oversees many subordinates. A narrow span of control exists when a leader oversees few subordinates.

The optimal Span of Control is dependent upon a great number of factors, some of which include:

  • The nature of the work of the subordinates.

  • The skills, capabilities, experience, seniority, qualifications of the subordinates.

  • The skills, capabilities, experience, seniority, qualifications of the manager.

  • The use of information technology.

  • The detail at which work rules and procedures have been formalized and are known by the subordinates.

  • The applied management style (command and control or democratic / affiliative).

  • The desired depth of the hierarchy in an organization (steep or flat).

  • Organizational approaches (Self-directed Teams, Empowerment, cross-functional teams, etc.)

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Ways to Increase the Span of Control

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Compare also: Flat Organizational Structure  |  Covert Leadership  |  Stretch Goals

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