difference between delegation and decentralization

The Distinction Between Delegation and Decentralization

Understanding Delegation

Delegation is a concept related to management and leadership where the responsibility and authority of a task or project are handed over to subordinate members of an organization. It involves assigning tasks and responsibilities to employees who have the skills and expertise to handle them effectively. In delegation, the ultimate accountability still lies with the person delegating the task, and they are expected to provide the necessary supervision and support to ensure the successful completion of the project.

Understanding Decentralization

Decentralization is a pattern of organizational structure where decision-making is spread across all levels of the organization rather than being centralized. It involves empowering employees at all levels to make important decisions, enabling them to respond quickly to any changes in the environment. Decentralization allows for a more flexible and agile organization, with reduced dependence on top-down decision-making. In this approach, accountability is shared among all members of the organization and decision-making is distributed.

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The Difference Between Delegation and Decentralization

Delegation and decentralization can often be confused with each other, but there are fundamental differences between the two concepts. While delegation is about assigning specific tasks and responsibilities to subordinates and retaining ultimate accountability, decentralization is more about distributing decision-making authority and providing more autonomy to employees at all levels.

Moreover, delegation tends to be more task-oriented, while decentralization is more focused on the overall management and decision-making processes. In delegation, the task remains with the person who delegated it, and any decisions regarding it must be approved by them. In decentralization, decision-making is guided by organizational policies, values, and goals, rather than being centralized.


Both delegation and decentralization are critical to effective management and leadership, but they serve different purposes. Decentralization is about enabling employees to make decisions and take responsibility, while delegation is about assigning tasks and responsibilities with ultimate accountability remaining with the person who delegated them. Organizations must understand the differences between these concepts to effectively implement them in their management structures. By doing so, they can enhance their efficiency, agility, and overall success.

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Table difference between delegation and decentralization

Delegation Decentralization
Delegation is the act of assigning tasks, authority, and responsibility to subordinates by a superior. Decentralization is the redistribution of power and decision-making from a central authority to local or regional levels.
In delegation, the superior retains overall control and accountability for the task being delegated. In decentralization, authority and responsibility are shared by multiple levels within an organization.
Delegation is a process of entrusting tasks to subordinates, while still maintaining control over outcomes. Decentralization is a deliberate strategy to empower lower levels by encouraging independent decision-making.
Delegation is a common approach to management in hierarchical organizations. Decentralization is often used in large organizations with multiple divisions, subsidiaries, or geographically dispersed branches.
Delegation is useful for ensuring that subordinates have the necessary skills and knowledge to complete assigned tasks. Decentralization can improve decision-making, accountability, and responsiveness to local conditions or customer needs.