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Delegation vs. Decentralization: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 30, 2023
Delegation involves assigning tasks to subordinates, while decentralization is the distribution of decision-making power across an organization.

Key Differences

Delegation is the act of a manager or leader assigning specific tasks or responsibilities to subordinates. Decentralization, on the other hand, involves distributing authority and decision-making power throughout various levels of an organization.
In delegation, the authority is loaned and accountability remains with the delegator. In decentralization, authority is not just loaned but transferred, and decision-making power is spread across the organization.
Delegation is often task-specific and can be temporary or project-based. Decentralization is a broader strategy that impacts the structure and culture of the organization.
While delegation is more about individual relationships between superiors and subordinates, decentralization is about the overall system and processes within an organization.
Delegation aims to enhance efficiency by dividing workload, whereas decentralization seeks to improve organizational responsiveness and flexibility by empowering multiple decision-makers.

Comparison Chart


Assigning specific tasks or responsibilities.
Distributing decision-making across the organization.

Authority Transfer

Authority is loaned, accountability remains.
Authority is transferred, more autonomy at lower levels.

Duration and Specificity

Often temporary or task-specific.
Long-term and involves structural changes.


Individual relationships between levels.
Overall organizational system and processes.


Enhancing efficiency by dividing workload.
Improving organizational responsiveness and flexibility.

Delegation and Decentralization Definitions


Empowering team members with specific responsibilities.
Delegation of customer service duties improved response times.


Enhancing organizational flexibility and responsiveness.
Decentralization of financial authority expedited budget approvals at the departmental level.


Transferring responsibility while retaining accountability.
Through delegation, the team leader assigned the project research to junior staff.


A structural change to empower lower-level employees.
Decentralization in the corporation enabled more innovative ideas from various departments.


Delegating authority to subordinates for specific tasks.
The CEO's delegation of operational decisions to managers streamlined processes.


Shifting control from a central point to multiple points.
Decentralization of the supply chain improved regional responsiveness.


The assignment of tasks to subordinates.
The manager's delegation of daily reporting to her assistant improved efficiency.


Reducing the concentration of power in top management.
The company's decentralization led to quicker, more local decision-making.


A tool for workload management among team members.
Effective delegation helped distribute tasks evenly in the department.


Distributing decision-making authority across an organization.
Decentralization allowed branch managers to make local marketing decisions.


The act of delegating.


To distribute the administrative functions or powers of (a central authority) among several local authorities.


The condition of being delegated.


To bring about the redistribution of (an urban population and industry) to suburban areas.


A person or group of persons officially elected or appointed to represent another or others.


To cause to withdraw or disperse from a center of concentration
Decentralize a university complex.
Decentralize a museum.


An act of delegating.


To undergo redistribution or dispersal away from a central location or authority.


A group of delegates used to discuss issues with an opponent.


The action of decentralizing, or the state of being decentralized.


(computing) A method-dispatching technique describing the lookup and inheritance rules for self-referential calls.


The action of decentralizing, or the state of being decentralized.


(legal)Law of obligations The act whereby or constellation in which the performance of an obligation (owed to an obligee, presuming its validity; irrespective of the obligation as the target of the delegation, rarely called delegatary) is assigned by its debtor (delegator, obligor) to and towards another party (delegatee, delegate)


The spread of power away from the center to local branches or governments.


The act of delegating, or investing with authority to act for another; the appointment of a delegate or delegates.


The social process in which population and industry moves from urban centers to outlying districts


One or more persons appointed or chosen, and commissioned to represent others, as in a convention, in Congress, etc.; the collective body of delegates; as, the delegation from Massachusetts; a deputation.


The spread of power away from the center to local branches or governments


A kind of novation by which a debtor, to be liberated from his creditor, gives him a third person, who becomes obliged in his stead to the creditor, or to the person appointed by him.


A group of representatives or delegates


Authorizing subordinates to make certain decisions


What's the key benefit of delegation?

It enhances efficiency and division of workload.

What is delegation?

Assigning specific tasks or responsibilities to subordinates.

What is decentralization?

Distributing decision-making power across various levels of an organization.

Does delegation reduce a manager's responsibility?

No, the manager remains accountable for delegated tasks.

Is decentralization suitable for all organizations?

It depends on the organization's size, culture, and objectives.

What's the main advantage of decentralization?

It improves organizational responsiveness and flexibility.

How does decentralization affect decision-making?

It speeds up decision-making by empowering multiple levels.

Can delegation occur without decentralization?

Yes, tasks can be delegated without changing the overall decision-making structure.

Does decentralization imply delegation?

Yes, it involves delegating decision-making authority to lower levels.

What skills are important for effective delegation?

Communication, trust in subordinates, and clarity in instructions.

Can a small team practice decentralization?

Yes, if decision-making is spread among team members.

Can delegation be reversed?

Yes, delegated tasks can be reassigned or taken back.

Can decentralization lead to a lack of unified strategy?

Without proper coordination, it might lead to strategy misalignment.

Is training important for effective delegation?

Yes, training ensures that subordinates are equipped to handle delegated tasks.

What are the risks of decentralization?

Potential inconsistency in decisions and loss of centralized control.

Is delegation more about tasks or authority?

It's primarily about assigning tasks and responsibilities.

Can delegation be part of a manager's leadership style?

Yes, it's a key aspect of participative and empowering leadership.

Does decentralization require organizational restructuring?

Often, it involves changes in structure to distribute authority.

How does delegation impact employee motivation?

It can increase motivation through empowerment and responsibility.

How does decentralization impact organizational culture?

It often leads to a more empowered and proactive culture.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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