After Departmentalization and Division of Labour, the third main consideration of any organizing effort is Span of Management – the no. of individuals a manger supervises.

The more individuals a manger supervises, the greater the span of management.

Span of management is also called the span of control, span of authority, span of supervision and span of responsibility.

The central concern of span of management is to determine how many individuals a manager can supervise effectively.

To use the company’s human resources most productively, managers should supervise as many individuals as they can best guide towards meeting the organization’s targets. Too few – wasting their capacity. Too many – losing effectiveness.


As reported by Harold Koontz, several important situational factors influence the appropriateness of the size of an individual’s span of management:

  • SIMILARITY OF FUNCTIONS:                                                                                                                                                                                                                   The degree to which activities performed by supervised individuals are similar or dissimilar. As the similarity of the subordinates activity increases, the span of management increases and vice versa.                                                                          
  • GEOGRAPHIC CONTINUITY:                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The degree to which subordinates are  physically separated. In general, the closer subordinates are physically, the more of them managers can supervise effectively.                                                                              
  • COMPLEXITY OF FUNCTIONS:                                                                                                                                                                                                                       The degree to which worker’s activities are difficult and involved. The more difficult and involved the activities are, the more difficult it is to manage a large no. of individuals effectively.                                                                      
  • COORDINATION :                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The amount of time managers must spend synchronizing the activities of their subordinates with the activities of other workers. The greater the amount of time must be spent on such coordination, the smaller the span of management can be.                                                                                                                       

              The amount of time  managers must spend developing management                   system objectives and plans and integrating them with the activities                   of their subordinates. The more time managers must spend on the                       planning activities, the fewer individuals they can manage effectively.



V.A.Graicunas developed a formula for determining the no. of possible relationships between a manager and subordinates when the no. of subordinates is known.

Graicunas’s Formula is as follows:

C = n a (2^n)/2 + n – 1 b

C is the total no. of possible relationships between manager and subordinates, and n is the known no. of subordinates.

As the no. of subordinates increases, arithmetically, the no. of possible relationships between the manager and those subordinates increases geometrically.

4 thoughts on “SPAN OF MANAGEMENT

  1. good for an introduction.
    I think there should be some graphic representation to make it more elaborate, lucid and interesting.


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