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Span of control in supervision of rail track work

Houghton, Robert J.; White, Chris; Golightly, David; Wilson, John R.


Chris White

David Golightly

John R. Wilson


The supervision of engineering work on the railways has received relatively little examination despite being both safety-critical in its own right and having wider implications for the successful running of the railways. The present paper is concerned with understanding the factors that make different engineering works perceived as easier or harder to manage. We describe an approach building on notions of ‘span of control’, through which we developed the TOECAP inventory (Team, Organisation, Environment, Communication, Activity and Personal). This tool was validated through both interviews and questionnaires. As well as identifying the physical factors involved, the work also emphasised the importance of collaborative and attitudinal factors. We conclude by discussing limitations of the present work and future directions for development.


Houghton, R. J., White, C., Golightly, D., & Wilson, J. R. (2016). Span of control in supervision of rail track work. Cognition, Technology and Work, 18(2), 361-378.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Mar 3, 2016
Publication Date Mar 3, 2016
Deposit Date Mar 24, 2016
Publicly Available Date Mar 24, 2016
Journal Cognition, Technology & Work
Electronic ISSN 1435-5558
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 2
Pages 361-378
Keywords Span of control ; Rail human factors ; Workload ; Management science
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information The final publication is available at Springer via


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