Defining the Span of Control

By William G. OuchiJohn B. Dowling
1973| Working Paper No. 168

The uses of the concept, “Span of Control,” have become so varied over the past years that in its present form it is no longer useful as a means of communicating information between scholars. This paper argues that the span of control is a useful concept for measuring the closeness of contact between a superior and his subordinates. It presents data which demonstrate that different operational definitions of the term will produce not only greatly different mean values of the span of control, but also different correlation coefficients with other important structural variables.