Chapter 13: CENTRALIZATION AND DECENTRALIZATION
Concentration of authority at the top level of the
administration system. Decentralization means dispersal of
authority among lower levels of the systems. In
centralization the lower levels cant act on their own
initiative. They have to refer problems to the higher
levels. Decentralization allows field offices to act on
their own initiative in specified matters.
Decentralization thus allows field offices to deliver public
service from local centers to client locality. It allows
establishment of direct relationship between client and
administration and bring administration to doorstep.
Decentralization allows local planning, development using
local resources. It allows local participation in
development activities with intensive response and paves way
for meaningful articulation of local demands. Planning
becomes more responsive, realistic. It increases local
capacity to govern local areas using local decision making.
Decentralization will release local energies, enlist local
support for development activities. Thus local community can
attain political, administrative maturity.
- Political: establish new levels of government like
autonomous states or local governments.
- Territorial: Establishment of field offices by HQ and
given limited autonomy in their specified matters.
- Functional: Vesting of decision making in specialized
agencies by the central agency. E.g: UGC, AICTE.
Approaches to DCT:
- Doctrinal: Conceives decentralization
as the end not means to some goal through a process of
'romantic idealization'. E.g: Gandhian idea of "village
- Political: Creation of decentralized
units with a set of operational autonomy but this needs
political support else remains a facade. E.g: Panchayati
- Administrative: Establishment of
decentralized units in field is determined by factor of
administrative efficiency i.e. better decision making and
problem solving. E.g: district and divisional
- Dual role: Decentralization is used as
a tool to resolve conflicts in field administration
between traditional and changing organizations. E.g:
Office of district collector is a status quo oriented
structure used for bring speedy socio economic change.
Decentralization may cause area function duality i.e.
demands of area based administration may conflict with
claims of functional department.
|Maximum control over organization
||delay and red tape
|all work is done in same manner and in accordance to
||overburden head office
|avoids duplication of work
||autocratic control over subordinates
|active role in personal leadership
||not conducive for diversification, development of
second line of executive
|suitable for emergencies
||anti peoples participation
|max utilization of resources
||head office acts without information of local
|Reduces delay, HQ is less burdened
||Complicates coordination, integration of activities
of multiple units
|policy making and execution are seperated
||communication is difficult between various units.
|national policies are adopted to local conditions.
Facilitates peoples participation.
||Administration is expensive
|second line of executives is developed
||cant handle emergencies
|reduces communication overhead
||encourages divisive forces
|encourages competition and comparitive standard
among field offices
||increases corruption, nepotism
|enables experimentation in decision making and
implementation by field units without committing whole
organization to untried course of action
||weakens national perspective by breeding local-ism,
- Only possible if decentralization of functions, finances
- Field offices should report to one central agency.
- Jurisdictional lines should be meticulously drawn.
- Common standard of procedure.
- Sufficient flexible physical and psychological structure
to permit it to adjust to local condition.
- System of ready appeals. Free channelization of
suggestions from fields to the center.
- Adequate reporting, inspection methods should provide
central head with knowledge of field operations.
Factors governing centralization or decentralization
Responsibility: As the central authority
is held responsible for failures. It doesn't delegate
discretionary powers to field offices and prefers direct
control over them.
Administrative: Old organizations with
stable procedures favor decentralization whereas frequent
changes favor centralization; Higher pressure for speed,
autonomy, competent staff favor decentralization.
Functions: Uniformity of functions favors
centralization; If technical nature of work and multi
functional organization organization then decentralization
External: People participation, interest
groups, grass root democracy, demand for planning from below
all encourage decentralization.
Field Organization Patterns
- In unitary type field offices are placed under one
central coordinating agency. In multiple type, different
field offices are placed under different divisions.
- Field office can be directly supervised by HQ, or
regional subdivisions can supervise them.