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Defining the Span of Control

William G. Ouchi and John B. Dowling
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 19, No. 3 (Sep., 1974), pp. 357-365
DOI: 10.2307/2391977
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2391977
Page Count: 9
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Defining the Span of Control
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Abstract

The concept span of control has been interpreted so widely over the past years that in its present form its use as a means of communicating information among scholars has become severely impaired. This article argues that it is a useful concept for measuring the closeness of contact between a superior and his subordinates. Data are presented 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. A new operational measure is proposed in order to develop a common language of measurement that will facilitate an understanding of organizational structure.

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