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Span of Control and Span of Activity

  • Oriana Bandiera
  • Andrea Prat
  • Raffaella Sadun
  • Julie Wulf

For both practitioners and researchers, span of control plays an important role in defining and understanding the role of the CEO. In this paper, we combine organizational chart information for a sample of 65 companies with detailed data on how their CEOs allocate their work time, which we define as their span of activity. Span of activity provides a direct measure of the CEO's management style, including the attention devoted to specific subordinates and functions, the time devoted to individual work and outside constituencies, a preference for multilateral or bilateral interaction, the degree of planning, etc. We find that CEOs with a larger number of reports spend more time with subordinates, more time on large meetings, less time on unplanned activities. The presence of a delegate, such as the COO, allows the CEO to reduce the time spent with insiders and to focus on bilateral and unplanned activities. These results suggest that time-use information is helpful in interpreting how span of control determines management style.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1139.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1139
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Bloom, Nicholas & Sadun, Raffaella & Van Reenen, John, 2009. "The Organization of Firms Across Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 7338, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Oriana Bandiera & Luigi Guiso & Andrea Prat & Raffaella Sadun, 2009. "Matching Firms, Managers and Incentives," Economics Working Papers ECO2009/14, European University Institute.
  3. Garicano, Luis & Prat, Andrea, 2011. "Organizational Economics with Cognitive Costs," CEPR Discussion Papers 8372, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Luis Garicano, 2000. "Hierarchies and the Organization of Knowledge in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 874-904, October.
  5. Timothy Van Zandt, 1997. "Real-Time Hierarchical Resource Allocation," Discussion Papers 1231, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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