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 structure).

  • Organizational approaches (Self-directed Teams, Empowerment, Cross-Functional Teams, etc.)

Special Interest Group

Span of Control Special Interest Group.

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Forum about the Span of Control. Below you can ask a question about this topic, share your experiences, report a new development, or explain something.

topic What is the Optimal Span of Control?
Many management writers seem to agree that the optimum span of management is 4 to 8 surbordinates. Can we agree on this?...
Comments9 comments
topic Drawbacks of a Wide Span of Control?
What are the main drawbacks or pitfalls of a wide span of control?...
Comments1 comments
topic Too Many Management Levels in Municipal Government
A recent review of municipal governments for large cities has shown many major cities (over 1 million in population) have too many levels of management. If you combine a hierarchy that is too tall (e....
🔥 Span of Engagement
May I recommend that the term "Span of Control" be changed to: "Span of Engagement"? May I also recommend that remote/hybrid work be added to the list - since it is such a "hot" topic at this time an...
Comments11 comments
topic Control in Management
Control in management and leadership is mandatory. If you have significant control on the employees then you'll be able to develop a strategy and to implement it. The control can lead your firm to hig...
Comments2 comments

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Key Considerations in Deciding Upon your Organizational Design

Organization Set Up, Organizational Structure, Organization Structure, Centralization, Span of Control, Departmentaliz
When setting up a business or organization, it is important to think about the roles, processes and relationships within...

Ways to Increase the Span of Control

Organization Design, Job Design
There are multiple ways to increase the span of control. These are the main ones: Appoint an adjunct (assistant) man...

2 Meanings of Span of Control

Organization Design, Job Design
Be alert for 2 meanings of the term “Span of Control”. 1. The actual number of employees (subordinates) that is ...
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History of the Span of Management

Span of Control, Span of Supervision, Span of Management, Span of Authority
This historical essay provides insight into the span of management concept through an integration of the diverse literat...

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

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