Determination of Span of Management

No doubt, management thinkers agree that span of management principle holds true but they do not agree about the number of subordinates that can be put under one superior. The classical approach to the span of management has dealt with generalization embodying specific number of subordinates for effective span. The classical writers have suggested between three to eight subordinates as ideal depending on the levels of management with lower the level of management higher the number of subordinates. Graicunas, a French management consultant, has suggested the fixation of number of subordinates based on mathematical calculation. He has analyzed superior subordinate relationships and developed mathematical formula. Graicunas has identified three types of superior-subordinate relationships: direct single relationships, direct group relationships, and cross relationships.

(i) Direct Single Relationships. Direct single relationships arise from the direct individual contacts of the superior with his subordinates. Thus if there are three subordinates A,B,C under one superior X, there will be three direct single relationships.

(ii) Direct Group Relationships. Direct group relationships arise between the superior and his subordinates in all possible combinations. Thus, the superior may consult his subordinates with one or more providing assistance. With three subordinates, there will be nine such relationships like A with B, A with C, B with C, and so on with the superior associated with all groups.

(iii) Cross Relationships. Cross relationships arise because of mutual interaction of subordinates working under the common superior, such as A and B, A and C,B and A and so on. The relationship is quite different between A and B than B and A from management point of view because the type of interaction will be different in both the cases. There are six such relationships with three subordinates.