Certain enterprises change much more rapidly than others. The rate of change is an important determinant of the degree to which policies can be formulated and the stability of policies maintained. It may explain the organization structure of companies- railroad, banking and public utility companies, for example- operating with wide spans of management or, on the other hand, the very narrow span of management used by General Eisenhower during world war second.
The effect of slow change on policy formulation and on subordinate training is dramatically shown in the organization of the Roman Catholic Church. This organization, in terms of durability and stability, can probably be regarded as the most successful in the history of western civilization. Yet the organization levels are few: In most cases bishops report directly to the pope and parish pastors to bishops. Thus, there are generally very few levels in this worldwide organization and a consequent wide span of management at each level.
The effectiveness with which communication techniques are used also influences the span of management. Objective standards of control are a kind of communication device, but many other techniques reduce the time spent with subordinates. If every plan, instruction, order or direction has to be communicated by personal contact and every organization change or staffing problem has to be handled orally, a manager’s time will obviously be heavily burdened.
Written recommendations by subordinates, summarizing important considerations, frequently speed decision making. Some busy top executives widen their span of management by insisting upon summary presentation of written recommendations, even when these involved enormously important decisions. A carefully reasoned and presented recommendation helps an executive reach a considered decision in minutes when even the most efficient conference would require an hour. An ability to communicate plans and instructions clearly and concisely also tends to increase a manager’s span.