All of the issues your question addresses about the evolution of the
role of managers relate either in a direct or indirect way to the
major change occurred within the last twenty years timeframe, known as
"new economy". This change has a number of interrelated
>> The predominant role of high technology:
Information and communication technologies are the more visible, but
these ones -- altogether with robotics -- increased the automation of
manufacturing of goods.
Also, new information and communication technologies created the
conditions for the emergence and expansion of the internet and the
world wide web -- as a way for exchanging information first, but soon
as a marketplace for trading "business to business" and "business to
The concentration of capitals, the interconnection of capital markets
-- boomed by new information and communication technologies -- and the
increasingly practical possibility to find the most cost-effective
manufacturing opportunities worl-wide, led to an ever-complexing
interrelation of international economies.
>> Knowledge-based work preponderance:
Consequence -- and increaser -- of the two previously mentioned, this
one is the aspect directly related to your question -- the
augmentation of knowledge work as opposed to manual work.
>> The change of organizational structures:
All the changes above mentioned had it necessary correlation in the
way organizations are structured and managed. As the market becomes
more competitive, organizational experts conceived different
approaches. From the emphasis in control to motivation; from highly
hierarchical structures to flatter pyramids; from managing separated
areas to managing processes involving different areas; from
competitive individual contributions to team building and
Despite the trial and error process involving any innovation, these
new approaches contributed with organizations to more efficiently and
effectively adapt to more dynamic and competitive environments. Also,
more knowledge-based organizations typically work better with flatter
structures and highly motivated teams covering complete processes.
Managers are typically knowledge workers and, coherently, figures do
show an increase of managerial jobs among the working population:
"Managerial and professional jobs increased as a share of total
employment from 22 percent in 1979 to 28.4 percent in 1995." [THE NEW
ECONOMY INDEX: Understanding America?s Economic Transformation; Robert
D. Atkinson and Randolph H. Court; Progressive Policy Institute -
Technology, Innovation, and New Economy Project; November 1998
(http://www.neweconomyindex.org/index_nei.html ) Section I
(http://www.neweconomyindex.org/section1_page02.html ) - This is a
very enlightening article that you can either read online or download
as a PDF at http://www.neweconomyindex.org/NewEconomy.pdf ]
While I couldn't find the data to fill a gap between 1995 and 2000, I
did find the figures for years 2000 to the present -- being the source
the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/data/home.htm ):
Total of Workers at http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpsatab1.htm
Options: Employed - Not seasonally adjusted. Brings up results from
1995 through 2005.
Managerial jobs at http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpsatab10.htm
Option: Management, professional, and related occupations. Brings up
results for 2000 through 2005.
In both cases, considering for 2005 the average of January through
November, I composed this chart:
| WORKERS | MANAGERS | % |% VARIATION
2000 | 136891000 | 46301000 | 33.82 |
2001 | 136933000 | 47043000 | 34.35 | 0.53
2002 | 136485000 | 47180000 | 34.57 | 0.21
2003 | 137736000 | 47929000 | 34.80 | 0.23
2004 | 139252000 | 48532000 | 34.85 | 0.05
2005 | 141621727 | 49129182 | 34.69 | -0.16
Total variation: 0.87
Annual average variation: 0.17
If the percent for 1995 was 28.4 and for 2000 33.82, then the percent
of workers who were managers increased in 5.42% in that 5 years
period, while only 0.87% in the following period, the last 5 years,
with actually a decrease of 0.16% in 2005 with respect to 2004,
showing a declining -- maybe reversing -- trend.
The span of control part of your question depends more on the type of
organization, but in general terms the trend is to flatten the
hierarchical pyramid, reducing the number of managerial layers, thus
increasing the span of control.
The more an organization is knowledge-based, a wider span of control
is possible and desirable. Better educated workers are more
independent -- thus needing less supervision -- and also less control
with more motivation and commitment allows creativity to flow better.
Also, costs get reduced because of a smaller number of managerial
posts per worker, and decision making is more responsive, thus better
adapted to an ever-increasingly competitive environment.
However, manufacturing companies may need a lower span of control for
reasons such as that they rely on a less educated working force doing
more specific tasks, and the hazards inherent to the type of work,
requiring more supervision in order to assure safety levels.
Now, since the knowledge-based work has increased in relation to
manual-based work, the general trend results in an augmentation of
span of control.
Supporting and expanding the above mentioned, you can see the following sources:
Span of Control, at Managing Change:
"Downsizing: A Strategy that may be Hazardous to your Organization's
Health"; Foster Rinefort et al.; September 1998
"Power and Authority", 1998
As to the last part of your question, about the current uses of the
word "manager", differences can be found regarding what are the
characteristics of managers. In the present, managers are supposed to
manage processes, but there are always people -- workers -- behind
those processes. If in your question, by "manage people" you mean an
emphasis in supervision and control, the approach has certainly
changed because the preferred model of manager today is the one who
motivates, coaches and stimulates the workers' creativity.
Laurette Koellner (Boeing Company's Shared Services President)
describes this change in the role of management to focus in team
collaboration in clearest terms:
"Today's employees need leaders who are coaches and mentors, leaders
who provide tools to support collaboration, and leaders who can
successfully create an atmosphere where ideas flow and creativity is
heightened. Today's employee is not a "worker" who will stand for a
command-and-control environment. Successful leaders of today -- and
tomorrow -- are leaders who have been able to evolve just as our
workforce has evolved."
Koellner, Laurette (Shared Services President - The Boeing Company);
"The Evolving Role of Managers and Leaders"; Speech at the National
Management Association; February 21, 2002
As to if more people use the title manager now than before, I didn't
find any evidence to support it, other than a paragraph in the
Canadian "National Occupational Classification, CODING TIPS"; January
31, 2005 (http://www.hrma-agrh.gc.ca/leadership/mp-ps/documents/consultations/coding_tips_e.asp
"The coding of management positions is a troublesome area for many
organizations. In the public sector, as well as in the private sector,
there are too many positions called Manager/Chief/Head that are in
But nothing concluding about it being a new trend differing from the past.
I even searched for online managerial job offers, and nothing really
unusual showed up. See for example
I hope the above posted completely answers your question. You always
have the possibility to request clarification if you find it
necessary, and I'll be glad to respond if you do.
My search keywords at Google were:
"percent of employees are managers"
"role of managers"
"jobs called managers"
"positions called managers"