Short Essay on the Limits of the Span of Control in an Organisation

The limits of the span of control are real and important restrictions. As a result, a careful balancing of the inefficiencies of levels against those of spans is necessary. Reducing the number of levels is not a cure for all administrative ills.

Fayol advocated cross-communication as a means of co-ordinating departmental managers. Urwick support the same by stating that lower level people must be encouraged to develop maximum cross relationships among them. The official channels need not be the only avenues of communication. Excessive ‘red tape’ is easily avoided if cross communication is fostered within an organisation.

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Span is not a fable. It is real, it is a very useful general principle and a valuable diagnostic instrument in cases where organisational weakness exists. The restrictions imposed by the principle of span of control are real and important.

Acknowledging and recognizing the span principle as valid can help considerably in changing organisational structure which is the primary cause of management difficulties.

Such changes will add levels but this will give the constrained manager a chance to improve his effectiveness. Business should not weaken on the principle of the span of control in a vain attempt to induce already strained executive to stretch a little further. Despite Urwick’s forceful and convincing arguments, the trend today, as pointed out earlier, is towards wider spans only.