Examining the relationships between span of control and manager job and unit performance outcomes

Carol A. Wong, Pat Elliott-Miller, Heather Laschinger, Michael Cuddihy, Raquel M. Meyer, Margaret Keatings, Camille Burnett, Natalie Szudy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Aim: Our aim was to examine the combination of frontline manager (FLM) personal characteristics and span of control (SOC) on their job and unit performance outcomes. Background: Healthcare downsizing and reform have contributed to larger spans for FLMs in Canadian hospitals and increased concerns about manager workload. Despite a heightened awareness of SOC issues among decision makers, there is limited empirical evidence related to the effects of SOC on outcomes. Methods: A non-experimental predictive survey design was used to examine FLM SOC in 14 Canadian academic hospitals. Managers (n = 121) completed an online survey of work characteristics and The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) SOC tool. Unit turnover data were collected from organisational databases. Results: The combination of SOC and core self-evaluation significantly predicted role overload, work control and job satisfaction, but only SOC predicted unit adverse outcomes and neither significantly predicted unit turnover. Conclusions: The findings contribute to an understanding of connections between the combination of SOC and core self-evaluation and manager job and unit performance outcomes. Implications for nursing management: Organisational strategies to create manageable FLM SOC are essential to ensure exemplary job and unit outcomes. Core self-evaluation is a personality characteristic that may enhance manager performance in the face of high spans of control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-168
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Frontline clinical manager
  • Span of control
  • Work outcomes and unit outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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