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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
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of the Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2391977
Page Count: 9
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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.
Administrative Science Quarterly © 1974 Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University