Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 26(3) September 2013 : 53-67.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2013.23544
Nursing Research

Managerial Span of Control: A Pilot Study Comparing Departmental Complexity and Number of Direct Reports

Katreena Collette Merrill, Ginette Pepper and Mary Blegen


Nurse managers play pivotal roles in hospitals. However, restructuring has resulted in nurse managers having wider span of control and reduced visibility. The purpose of this pilot study was to compare two methods of measuring span of control: departmental complexity and number of direct reports. Forty-one nurse managers across nine hospitals completed The Ottawa Hospital Clinical Manager Span of Control Tool (TOH-SOC) and a demographic survey. A moderate positive relationship between number of direct reports and departmental complexity score was identified (r=.49, p=<.01). Intensive care departments were more likely to be classified differently, using departmental complexity compared to number of direct reports (54%). TOH-SOC is a reliable instrument (Cronbach's alpha = .838). Using departmental complexity rather than direct reports may more accurately reflect the full scope of nurse managers' responsibility.



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