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.

  1. Political: establish new levels of government like autonomous states or local governments.
  2. Territorial: Establishment of field offices by HQ and given limited autonomy in their specified matters.
  3. Functional: Vesting of decision making in specialized agencies by the central agency. E.g: UGC, AICTE.

Approaches to DCT:

  1. Doctrinal: Conceives decentralization as the end not means to some goal through a process of 'romantic idealization'. E.g: Gandhian idea of "village self sufficiency".
  2. Political: Creation of decentralized units with a set of operational autonomy but this needs political support else remains a facade. E.g: Panchayati raj.
  3. 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 administration.
  4. 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.

Advantages of centralization Disadvantages of centralization
Maximum control over organization delay and red tape
all work is done in same manner and in accordance to same policies. 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 conditions.

Advantage of Decentralization Disadvantage of decentralization
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, parochialism

Effective Decentralization

  1. Only possible if decentralization of functions, finances and functionaries.
  2. Field offices should report to one central agency.
  3. Jurisdictional lines should be meticulously drawn.
  4. Common standard of procedure.
  5. Sufficient flexible physical and psychological structure to permit it to adjust to local condition.
  6. System of ready appeals. Free channelization of suggestions from fields to the center.
  7. 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 is favorable.

External: People participation, interest groups, grass root democracy, demand for planning from below all encourage decentralization.

Field Organization Patterns

  1. In unitary type field offices are placed under one central coordinating agency. In multiple type, different field offices are placed under different divisions.
  2. Field office can be directly supervised by HQ, or regional subdivisions can supervise them.