Family tree type structure
Look at the diagram and answer the question below.


That is the managing director's span of control. There are five people that he has direct control over even though he has responsibility for many more people than that. The marketing manager has a span of control of three, namely the advertising manager, the sales manager and the public relations manager.

What determines the span of control?

  • The type of work the employees do. If their work is complicated and needs a lot of supervision then one manager can only directly control a few employees. This means he/she will have a narrow span of control. If their work is of the type where they can work on their own without close supervision, the manager could have direct control over many more workers, a wide span of control. However if this span of control was too wide, you can imagine that his/her supervision would become ineffective.
  • The leadership style of management. An autocratic manager would have a wide span of control as he/she would want to give all the orders, make all the decisions and supervise all the tasks. He/she does not delegate and will have a large number of subordinates under his direct control. A democratic manager would encourage workers to participate in decision making, which would mean that he/she would delegate and therefore have a narrow span of control. A laissez-faire manager has very little control and leaves his/her subordinates to get on with the job. He/she would have a very narrow span of control if there was any organisational structure at all!
  • The abilities of the subordinates. If the staff are good at their jobs and are highly skilled and experienced then they need less supervision, the manager can have a large number of people under his/her direct control, in other words a wide span of control. If the workers were not well trained they would need constant supervision and a narrow span of control would be needed.
Tall organisational structure

Here we have a tall organisational structure with many hierarchical levels and a narrow span of control.

Flat organisational structure

Here we have a flat organisational structure where there is a wide span of control and few hierarchical levels.