time span of discretion

time span of discretion

the length of time that elapses before an employee's work is checked by a supervisor. The concept was developed by the social psychologist Elliott Jacques (1917-) who believed it was a viable way of quantifying the level of judgement and discretion involved in a job. Jobs that involve little decision-making, such as assembly-line work, have a very short time span of discretion whereas managerial jobs, which have a much greater judgemental element, have a much longer span.

The time-span theory can be said to be an attempt objectively to incorporate the notions of responsibility and judgement into systems of WORK MEASUREMENT and JOB EVALUATION. Jacques has argued that it could form the basis of an equitable pay system, with rewards being based on the amount of discretion involved in each job. See JOB DESIGN AND REDESIGN.

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The greater the cognitive capacity and experience, the longer may be the person's time horizon, the greater their time span of discretion, and the greater may be that person's leadership potential.
In discussing the leader's time span of discretion, Jaques suggests that individual cognitive capacity is evolutionary.
One of Jaques' major contributions has been to look at the time span of discretion of a person's work and how this can reflect the seniority and complexity of their work.