The Difference Between Decentralisation And Delegation

Difference Between Decentralisation And Delegation

Delegation and decentralisation benefit an organisation mainly by improving business performance. Decentralisation results from delegation and each has its own merits and demerits. The two terms may be related but are different in many ways. The difference between decentralisation and delegation are outlined below.

What is Delegation

Delegation is when a manager or supervisor assigns authority to a person in a lower level position. This includes decision making and duties that the superior can do. This is normally done to assist the manager or superior with tasks and duties so that the organisation can meet its goals and objectives. Sharing responsibility through delegation has proven to be essential in many organisations. The superior who delegates authority is called the delegator and the junior who is given the authority is called the delegatee. The main factors associated with delegation are authority and responsibility.

What is Decentralisation

The transfer of authority, rights, duties as well as accountability is decentralisation. The top management in an organisation transfers these responsibilities to the middle level or lower level management. As such, responsibility and accountability are moved downwards to the lower management of an organisation. Decentralisation can also be seen as an improvement in delegation. Some of the advantages of decentralisation include fast decision making in an organisation, a reduction in workload especially in the top management section and overall increase in operational efficiency.

The major differences between delegation and decentralisation are summarised in the table below.

·         The primary difference between decentralisation and delegation is that delegation refers to handing down authority from one person of high level to another person of lower level in an organisation. ·         When authority has been handed down systematically and repeatedly decentralisation is the final outcome.


·         Delegation involves the subdivision and sub allocation of powers in order to achieve the effective results. ·         The difference between decentralisation and delegation is that, with delegation authority is subdivided. With decentralisation all authority regarding certain responsibilities and tasks is surrendered to subordinates.

·         Also, decentralisation can be seen as the restructuring or reorganising of authority so that there is a system of co-responsibility from the top management all the way down to the lower management.

·         The third difference between decentralisation and delegation is that delegation is a technique used by managers whereas decentralisation is more than a technique. ·         Decentralisation is a management philosophy that can be applied in an organisation.
·         When it comes to delegation, superiors are held accountable ·         In decentralisation the heads of department are held accountable for the departments they are responsible for. 
·         The fourth difference between delegation and decentralisation is that, in large organisations delegations is necessary for operations to run smoothly but this is not the case with decentralisation. ·         Decentralisation is not always necessary although it might increase an organisation’s efficiency
·         With delegation subordinates have little to no freedom compared to decentralisation. ·         Decentralisation allows workers to exercise freedom when performing their duties. 
·         Another difference between delegation and decentralisation is that delegation creates a superior subordinate kind of relationship where the superior exercises control and may restrict his/her subordinates, which is not always effective in any organisation ·         Decentralisation on the other hand, creates an organisation with autonomous departments. 
·         Delegation encourages creativity to a lesser extent as opposed to decentralisation ·         Decentralisation allows and encourages innovation and creativity
·         An important difference between delegation and decentralisation is that delegation is applied in both the private and public sector ·         Decentralisation on the other hand, applies mainly to the state and state-owned enterprises.


Differences between Decentralisation and Delegation According to Types

There are different forms of decentralisation but with delegation being one of the forms of decentralisation especially when it comes to the decentralisation of the government and state-owned enterprises. The types of decentralisation in governance are political decentralisation, administrative, fiscal and market decentralisation.

  • Political Decentralisation

Political decentralisation is a type of decentralisation where political leaders or citizens are given authority for public decision making. Political decentralisation is often associated with pluralistic societies. This way citizens and their elected representatives have influence in policy making and implementation. It is believed that decisions made will be more informed and relevant to the public.

  • Administrative Decentralisation

Administrative decentralisation refers to the redistribution of authority, financial resources and responsibility for providing public services among the different sectors of government. The planning, financing and management of public functions are transferred from the central government to subordinate units or certain private corporations. Administrative decentralisation applies to the private sector as well. The 3 main forms of administrative decentralisation are devolution, delegation and de-concentration.

  • Fiscal Decentralisation

Fiscal decentralisation can be self-financing, co-financing or loan financing. In some developing countries the local governments have applied fiscal decentralisation in such a way that local governments are allowed to impose taxes in order to raise funds.

  • Market Decentralisation

Market decentralisations shift authority and responsibility from the public to the private sector. The most common forms of market decentralisation are privatisation and deregulation. Privatisation and deregulation allow functions that were exclusively carried out by the state to be the taken over by private businesses, cooperatives, community groups or other non-government organisations.

In comparison to decentralisation there are 3 major types of delegation. These are general, formal, and lateral delegation.

  • General Delegation

General delegation is concerned with the transfer of planning, organising and directing from superior managers to junior managers. This may be similar to administrative decentralisation but the difference between delegation and decentralisation is that the superior manager or supervisor still exercises control and guides the subordinate often. Various departmental managers in most companies are assigned such responsibility by their managers.

  • Formal Delegation

Formal or informal delegation is part of the day to day operations of many organisations. It is a type of delegation where if a task is given to a person the authority associated with that task is assigned to that person. This means that every person is given authority based on his/her duties.

  • Lateral Delegation

Lateral delegation occurs when tasks and responsibilities are given to colleagues within the same rank in an organisation. This happens when a person has a lot of workload and needs the assistance of his/her peers. Lateral delegation also known as informal delegation.

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