Difference Between Chain of Command and Span of Control

Without a clear organizational hierarchy, no company would survive. And even those that do, the chaos would be difficult to deal with. Just who reports to who?  Who is in charge of a given group of people or department? Span of control and Chain of command are among the terms used when it comes to hierarchy in an organizational. They enhance the ease of management of human capital, hence boosting productivity and maintaining organizational culture. However, sometimes they are used interchangeably, despite the differences. This article will help you differentiate between span of control and chain of command. 

Chain of Command

Also referred to as corporate hierarchy, chain of control is the organization and arrangement of individuals in a corporation according to their status, power and job function. Hence, people are ranked above the others in accordance with their authority and status. Hierarchies are prevalent not only in organizations but also in other aspects of life such as organized religion, society leaders and governments. 

What is the importance of a corporate hierarchy? The role of a corporate hierarchy is the delegation of responsibility, authority and leadership over departments, employees and divisions. Hence, every individual gets to understand who they should report to. While some enterprises have a simple organizational structure, others have complex chains of command. More often, the larger the organization, the more complex the corporate hierarchy. It also affects employees’ ranking, how they advance within the company and the organizational culture. 

For most corporate chains of command, the most powerful person is at the top followed by the subordinates. This is a pyramid chain of common. Other corporates have horizontal chains of command where responsibility and authority are evenly distributed in the firm.  

For small companies, the chain of command evolves as the company grows with new layers being introduced with the entrance of new employees, managers and investors. For instance, CEOs are on top of the chain of command. They are followed by managers and subordinates respectively.  

Span of Control

This is the employees that a manager is capable of supervising efficiently in a firm. The management of subordinates can highly impact the results of any project. There is no one-size-fits-all span of control. Every firm has its structure depending on the nature of operations, the number of managers and subordinates. 

In a narrow span of control, managers are tasked with the supervision of a few subordinates. This is common in complex projects. However, it can also be used in complex projects whereby more layers of management are used to supervise a large number of subordinates. In a wide span of control, managers supervise a large number of employees, common in simple projects. 

The span of control used in an organization depends on factors such as the strategies and goals of a company, the size of the workforce, company culture and the divisions in the firm. 

Similarities Between Chain of Command and Span of Control

  • Both ease the management of human capital

Differences Between Chain of Command and Span of Control

Definition

Chain of command is the organization and arrangement of individuals in a corporation according to their status, power and job function. On the other hand, Span of control is the employees that a manager is capable of supervising efficiently in a firm. 

Base

Chain of command depends on the hierarchy in an organization. On the other hand, span of control depends on the nature of the industry and customer base. 

Use

Chain of command is used to indicate the reporting order in a firm. On the other hand, Span of control indicates the number of employees that each manager can effectively manage. 

Chain of Command vs. Span of Control: Comparison Table

Summary of Chain of Command vs. Span of Control

Chain of command is the organization and arrangement of individuals in a corporation according to their status, power and job function. The structure depends on the hierarchy in an organization. On the other hand, Span of control is the employees that a manager is capable of supervising efficiently in a firm. Companies base the span of control style on the nature of the industry and customer base. 

FAQs

What is the difference between span of control and unity of command?

Span of control is the number of employees that a manager can directly control. On the other hand, unity of command is the boss who every person reports and takes orders from. 

What is the difference between span of control and span of management?

Both span of management and span of control refer to the number of subordinates that a manager is responsible for. 

What is the difference between chain of command and hierarchy?

Both chain of command and hierarchy refers to a system whereby members in a firm are raked according to their authority or status in the company.

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Cite
APA 7
Njogu, T. (2022, March 7). Difference Between Chain of Command and Span of Control. Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects. http://www.differencebetween.net/business/difference-between-chain-of-command-and-span-of-control/.

MLA 8
Njogu, Tabitha. “Difference Between Chain of Command and Span of Control.” Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects, 7 March, 2022, http://www.differencebetween.net/business/difference-between-chain-of-command-and-span-of-control/.

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