Spanof Control

Spanof Control

Thespan of control in business perspectives is the number ofsubordinates under a particular supervisor. It entails the number ofoperations and area of activity for which a person or organization isresponsible. In a mechanistic organizational structure, the span ofcontrol is narrow at the top and widens as it moves downward. Themechanistic structure defines a company that is founded on anofficial, centralized network. It is mainly established where theenvironment is stable and can rarely be altered even if activitieschange within the organization. The organization’s structuredepicts a triangle. Each employee specializes in a small area groupedinto departments. One manager can hence supervise many workers due tothe wide span of control. At the top, managers oversee other managersthus narrowing the span of control. The ultimate control comes fromthe central authority of the organization.

Anorganic structure is quite flexible and adapts well to change. It hasvery few management layers, no direct supervision, decentralizeddecision-making, as well as little job specialization. Since controland decision-making can be placed anywhere within the company, thespan of control is quite extensive. Communication is also horizontalwith limited supervision required. All the employees have a duty towork as a team and improve the organization (McShane, 2013).

Theenvironment determines the type of organizational structure suitablefor the respective company. Early studies done by Stalker and Burnsillustrated that companies adopted structures that suited theirenvironment. In a vigorous industry, there is less centralization andformality. It also has a wide span of control. However, in a steadyindustry, decisions are made in a more centralized manner, formalrules are many, and the span of control is much narrower. Size isalso quite vital in the determination of organizational structure. Itdetermines the division of labor that regulates the number ofemployees and the coordination levels required. Size also determinescontrol needed. If the company is large, then centralized controlbecomes harder. Technology and strategy are also vital in thedetermination of organizational structure. Implementing technologicaladvancements are felt differently in a mechanistic structure ascompared to the organic structure. For instance, the findings of JoanWoodward on corporate technology illustrated that assembly line massproduction thrived in mechanistic organizations than the organicones. A company may opt to implement a strategy that suits theenvironment to boost its productivity levels. For instance, if theemployees work well as a team, implementing a plan that accommodatesdecentralized decision-making may work well with the company.


McShane, S. L. (2013). Organizational behavior: Emerging knowledge, global reality . New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.