Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2013

Span of Control and Span of Attention

by Oriana Bandiera, Andrea Prat, Raffaella Sadun and Julie Wulf


Using novel data on CEO time use, we document the relationship between the size and composition of the executive team and the attention of the CEO. We combine information about CEO span of control for a sample of 65 companies with detailed data on how CEOs allocate their time, which we define as their span of attention. CEOs with larger executive teams do not save time for personal use, or to cultivate external constituencies. Instead, CEOs with broader spans of control invest more in a "team" model of interaction. They spend more time internally, specifically in pre-planned meetings that have more participants from different functions. The complementarity between span of control and the team model of interaction is more prevalent in larger firms.

Keywords: Conferences; Data and Data Sets; Leadership Style; Management Style; Managerial Roles; Time Management; Planning;


Bandiera, Oriana, Andrea Prat, Raffaella Sadun, and Julie Wulf. "Span of Control and Span of Attention." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-053, December 2011. (Revised April 2014.)