Delegation: Centralization and Decentralization of Authority
A manager alone cannot perform all the tasks assigned to him. In order to meet the targets, the manager should delegate authority. Delegation of Authority means division of authority and powers downwards to the subordinate. Delegation is about entrusting someone else to do parts of your job. Delegation of authority can be defined as subdivision and sub-allocation of powers to the subordinates in order to achieve effective results.
Elements of Delegation
- Authority: In context of a business organization, authority can be defined as the power and right of a person to use and allocate the resources efficiently, to take decisions and to give orders so as to achieve the organizational objectives. Authority must be well- defined. All people who have the authority should know what is the scope of their authority is and they shouldn’t misutilize it. Authority is the right to give commands, orders and get the things done. The top level management has greatest authority.
Authority always flows from top to bottom. It explains how a superior gets work done from his subordinate by clearly explaining what is expected of him and how he should go about it. Authority should be accompanied with an equal amount of responsibility. Delegating the authority to someone else doesn’t imply escaping from accountability. Accountability still rest with the person having the utmost authority.
- Responsibility: Is the duty of the person to complete the task assigned to him. A person who is given the responsibility should ensure that he accomplishes the tasks assigned to him. If the tasks for which he was held responsible are not completed, then he should not give explanations or excuses. Responsibility without adequate authority leads to discontent and dissatisfaction among the person. Responsibility flows from bottom to top. The middle level and lower level management holds more responsibility. The person held responsible for a job is answerable for it. If he performs the tasks assigned as expected, he is bound for praises. While if he doesn’t accomplish tasks assigned as expected, then also he is answerable for that.
- Accountability: Means giving explanations for any variance in the actual performance from the expectations set. Accountability cannot be delegated. For example, if ’A’ is given a task with sufficient authority, and ’A’ delegates this task to B and asks him to ensure that task is done well, responsibility rest with ’B’, but accountability still rest with ’A’. The top level management is most accountable. Being accountable means being innovative as the person will think beyond his scope of job. Accountability, in short, means being answerable for the end result. Accountability can’t be escaped. It arises from responsibility.
For achieving delegation, a manager has to work in a system and has to perform following steps:
- Assignment of tasks and duties
- Granting of authority
- Creating responsibility and accountability
Delegation of authority is the base of superior-subordinate relationship, it involves following steps:-
- Assignment of Duties: The delegator first tries to define the task and duties to the subordinate. He also has to define the result expected from the subordinates. Clarity of duty as well as result expected has to be the first step in delegation.
- Granting of authority: Subdivision of authority takes place when a superior divides and shares his authority with the subordinate. It is for this reason, every subordinate should be given enough independence to carry the task given to him by his superiors. The managers at all levels delegate authority and power which is attached to their job positions. The subdivision of powers is very important to get effective results.
- Creating Responsibility and Accountability: The delegation process does not end once powers are granted to the subordinates. They at the same time have to be obligatory towards the duties assigned to them. Responsibility is said to be the factor or obligation of an individual to carry out his duties in best of his ability as per the directions of superior. Responsibility is very important. Therefore, it is that which gives effectiveness to authority. At the same time, responsibility is absolute and cannot be shifted. Accountability, on the others hand, is the obligation of the individual to carry out his duties as per the standards of performance. Therefore, it is said that authority is delegated, responsibility is created and accountability is imposed. Accountability arises out of responsibility and responsibility arises out of authority. Therefore, it becomes important that with every authority position an equal and opposite responsibility should be attached.
Therefore every manager,i.e.,the delegator has to follow a system to finish up the delegation process. Equally important is the delegatee’s role which means his responsibility and accountability is attached with the authority over to here.
Relationship between Authority and Responsibility
Authority is the legal right of person or superior to command his subordinates while accountability is the obligation of individual to carry out his duties as per standards of performance Authority flows from the superiors to subordinates,in which orders and instructions are given to subordinates to complete the task. It is only through authority, a manager exercises control. In a way through exercising the control the superior is demanding accountability from subordinates. If the marketing manager directs the sales supervisor for 50 units of sale to be undertaken in a month. If the above standards are not accomplished, it is the marketing manager who will be accountable to the chief executive officer. Therefore, we can say that authority flows from top to bottom and responsibility flows from bottom to top. Accountability is a result of responsibility and responsibility is result of authority. Therefore, for every authority an equal accountability is attached.
Differences between Authority and Responsibility
|It is the legal right of a person or a superior to command his subordinates.||It is the obligation of subordinate to perform the work assigned to him.|
|Authority is attached to the position of a superior in concern.||Responsibility arises out of superior-subordinate relationship in which subordinate agrees to carry out duty given to him.|
|Authority can be delegated by a superior to a subordinate||Responsibility cannot be shifted and is absolute|
|It flows from top to bottom.||It flows from bottom to top.|
Centralization is said to be a process where the concentration of decision making is in a few hands. All the important decision and actions at the lower level, all subjects and actions at the lower level are subject to the approval of top management. According to Allen, “Centralization” is the systematic and consistent reservation of authority at central points in the organization. The implication of centralization can be:
- Reservation of decision making power at top level.
- Reservation of operating authority with the middle level managers.
- Reservation of operation at lower level at the directions of the top level.
Under centralization, the important and key decisions are taken by the top management and the other levels are into implementations as per the directions of top level. For example, in a business concern, the father & son being the owners decide about the important matters and all the rest of functions like product, finance, marketing, personnel, are carried out by the department heads and they have to act as per instruction and orders of the two people. Therefore in this case, decision making power remain in the hands of father & son.
On the other hand, Decentralization is a systematic delegation of authority at all levels of management and in all of the organization. In a decentralization concern, authority in retained by the top management for taking major decisions and framing policies concerning the whole concern. Rest of the authority may be delegated to the middle level and lower level of management.
The degree of centralization and decentralization will depend upon the amount of authority delegated to the lowest level. According to Allen, “Decentralization refers to the systematic effort to delegate to the lowest level of authority except that which can be controlled and exercised at central points.
Decentralization is not the same as delegation. In fact, decentralization is all extension of delegation. Decentralization pattern is wider is scope and the authorities are diffused to the lowest most level of management. Delegation of authority is a complete process and takes place from one person to another. While decentralization is complete only when fullest possible delegation has taken place. For example, the general manager of a company is responsible for receiving the leave application for the whole of the concern. The general manager delegates this work to the personnel manager who is now responsible for receiving the leave applicants. In this situation delegation of authority has taken place. On the other hand, on the request of the personnel manager, if the general manager delegates this power to all the departmental heads at all level, in this situation decentralization has taken place. There is a saying that “Everything that increasing the role of subordinates is decentralization and that decreases the role is centralization”. Decentralization is wider in scope and the subordinate’s responsibility increase in this case. On the other hand, in delegation the managers remain answerable even for the acts of subordinates to their superiors.
Implications of Decentralization
- There is less burden on the Chief Executive as in the case of centralization.
- In decentralization, the subordinates get a chance to decide and act independently which develops skills and capabilities. This way the organization is able to process reserve of talents in it.
- In decentralization, diversification and horizontal can be easily implanted.
- In decentralization, concern diversification of activities can place effectively since there is more scope for creating new departments. Therefore, diversification growth is of a degree.
- In decentralization structure, operations can be coordinated at divisional level which is not possible in the centralization set up.
- In the case of decentralization structure, there is greater motivation and morale of the employees since they get more independence to act and decide.
- In a decentralization structure, co-ordination to some extent is difficult to maintain as there are lot many department divisions and authority is delegated to maximum possible extent, i.e., to the bottom most level delegation reaches. Centralization and decentralization are the categories by which the pattern of authority relationships became clear. The degree of centralization and de-centralization can be affected by many factors like nature of operation, volume of profits, number of departments, size of a concern, etc. The larger the size of a concern, a decentralization set up is suitable in it.