Introduction – SPAN OF MANAGEMENT

The grouping of activities to create various departments presents another problem, that is, how many individuals should be placed under one superior. This problem is related to the horizontal dimension of an organization structure. In management literature, span of management, span of control, or span of supervision are used to denote the same concept of number of subordinates which should be put under one superior. However, the term span of management appears to be more suitable as compared to its alternatives because a superior is responsible for the total activities of his subordinates which involves not merely controlling or supervising but the total managerial activities.

Span of management refers to the number of subordinates who can be managed effectively by a superior. The number of subordinates who report to superior has two important implications. First, it is influential in determining the complexity of individual managers’ jobs. Second, the span of management determines the shape, or configuration of the organization; the fewer the number of people reporting to superior, the larger the number of managers required. Therefore, the number of subordinates reporting to a superior should be fixed which in any case cannot go beyond certain limit. However, Soujanen has suggested that span of management is a traditional concept and is not valid because the coordination and control can be achieved through formal and informal group activity. The replacement of old system of individual control by control through management team has changed the whole system of communication and contact in the organization which has affected attention paid to the way executive controls in the command sense. However, Soujanen’s contention that modem social science concepts have modified the concept of traditional span of management drew a sharp reaction from Urwick. He brought an article in response and suggested that the contention of Soujanen was wrong and span of control principle held valid.