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Difference Between Delegation and Decentralization – 7 Major Differences | Principles of Management

In organizational terms, delegation and decentralization refer to the distribution of authority, responsibilities, and decision-making within a hierarchy.

Although they share common characteristics, each concept has its own distinctive characteristics and implications for organizational structure and decision-making processes.

Let’s take a closer look at their differences.


A delegation involves assigning authority and responsibility to a subordinate or team member from a superior or manager. As a result, a person or a group is given the power to take decisions, complete tasks on behalf of the delegator.

During an organization, delegation is a powerful tool to share workload, empower individuals, and boost efficiency.

Characteristics of Delegation:

Some of the characteristics of delegation are as follows:

Characteristics of Delegation

Authority Transfer:

An authority transfer occurs when the delegatee assumes an authority over the delegator. The delegator gives the delegatee authority to make decisions, issue instructions, and act on behalf of the delegate.

Clear Roles and Responsibilities:

Delegation is based on defining clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The delegatee is responsible for completing assigned tasks and is accountable for the outcomes. The delegatee is accountable for the outcomes.

The delegator communicates the specific tasks, objectives, and boundaries within which the delegatee can operate.

Hierarchical Structure:

A hierarchical structure allows authority and decision-making power to flow from higher to lower positions, which is why delegation occurs within a hierarchical structure. Delegates hold a higher position within an organization than delegatees.

Specific Timeframe:

A specific timeframe or project duration is often associated with delegations. The delegator sets a completion date or deadline for the tasks assigned to the delegatee, ensuring that the delegation is temporary and limited in scope.

Control and supervision:

Although control and authority are delegated to a delegatee, the delegator maintains overall supervision, provides guidance and monitors progress, and may intervene or provide feedback.


The concept of decentralization refers to the transfer of authority, responsibility, and decision-making power to a lower level within an organization from a central authority.

As a strategic approach, decentralization promotes flexibility, autonomy, and local decision-making across a variety of levels or units within an organization.

Characteristics of Decentralization

The following are the characteristics of decentralization:

characteristics of decentralization

Redistribution of power:

Decentralization involves transferring authority and decision-making power from a central authority to lower levels. As decision-making processes are dispersed across different levels or units, they are more autonomous.

Local Decision-Making and Autonomy:

Decentralization allows lower-level units, such as departments, divisions, and regional branches, to function independently and make decisions on their own.

Within the overall strategic framework set by the central authority, these units are entitled to make decisions that affect their specific operations.

Strategic Alignment:

A strategic framework is defined by the central authority, under which decentralization operates. As the central authority sets the organization’s mission, goals, and strategic direction, the decentralized units align their decision-making within this framework.

Multiple Decision-Makers:

Decentralization involves multiple decision-makers distributed across various levels or units. The central authority delegated decision-making power to these units, so they could respond to local circumstances and needs.

The decision-makers possess authority and responsibility within their respective areas of operation.

Organizational Structure:

A decentralized organizational structure creates semi-autonomous units or divisions with decision-making power and are responsible for decisions regarding resources, budgets, and performance.

Differences between Delegation and Decentralization:

Some of the differences between Delegation and Decentralization are as follows:

Differences between Delegation and Decentralization


Delegation refers to a specific process of assigning authority and responsibility from a higher to a lower level within a hierarchical structure.

Decentralization, on the other hand, is a broader organizational concept that involves redistributing decision-making power among different levels or units within a company. As a result, the organizational structure and decision-making processes are affected.

Authority Transfer:

Delegation involves transferring authority from a higher to a lower position within a specific hierarchical structure. Nevertheless, decentralization involves the transfer of decision-making authority from a central authority to lower-level units or divisions, while retaining overall supervisory control.

A lower-level unit has greater autonomy and independence in making decisions, despite the fact that the decision-making power is dispersed across the organization.

Decision-Making Focus:

Delegation focuses on the assignment of specific tasks and responsibilities within a hierarchical structure to individuals or teams. The delegator retains ultimate decision-making authority and control.

In contrast, decentralization emphasizes the distribution of decision-making power to various levels and units. Multiple decision-makers share decision-making authority, facilitating local decision-making and responsiveness to specific operational needs.

Duration and temporary nature:

Delegation is typically a temporary or project-based process that involves assigning specific tasks or responsibilities. When the task is completed, the authority will be returned to the delegator.

Decentralization, on the other hand, involves a long-term strategic approach to organizational structure and decision-making. Essentially, it involves reassuring lower-level units or divisions of decision-making control.

Organizational Impact:

Delegation primarily impacts the relationship between a delegator and a delegate within a hierarchical structure. Decentralization does not have a significant impact on the overall organizational structure or decision-making processes, however.

Creating semi-autonomous units or divisions, it gives them decision-making power and accountability.

Strategic Alignment:

A delegate is aligned with a strategic framework set by the delegator, within which the delegatee operates. The delegatee is assigned tasks, objectives, and boundaries by the delegator.

On the other hand, decentralization aligns with the strategic framework established by the central authority. The central authority sets the overall strategic direction, but decentralized units have more autonomy to make decisions within their specific operational contexts.

Decision-Making Authority:

When a delegate makes a decision, the delegator retains ultimate control and authority. A delegate is responsible for executing tasks and making decisions within the confines of the delegator’s authority.

During decentralization, decision-making authority is dispersed across various levels or units. Within decentralized units, local decision-makers are responsible for their areas of operation and have the decision-making authority.

Decentralization and delegation are organizational concepts that involve distributing authority, responsibility, and decision-making within a hierarchy.

In a hierarchical structure, delegation is a method for assigning specific tasks and responsibilities to lower-level positions. While decentralization is a broader organization-wide approach, it involves the redistribution of decision-making power to lower-level units and divisions.

In contrast to delegation, which is project-based and temporary, decentralization impacts the overall organizational structure and decision-making processes over a long period of time.

Bijisha Prasain

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