span of control

(redirected from spans of control)

span of control

the number of people a manager has formal AUTHORITY over and is responsible for. Most ORGANIZATIONS are structured on the premise that there are practical limitations to the number of people one manager can effectively supervise without becoming overloaded or losing sight of what the subordinates are doing. CLASSICAL MANAGEMENT THEORY held that the optimum span of control was around six people. It is now generally believed that the effective width of the span is to some extent determined by the distribution of decision-making. Where this is decentralized a wider span is feasible. The span of control is often inversely related to the number of levels in the HIERARCHY of an ORGANIZATION. The more levels, the smaller the span of control, and vice versa.