Though delegation and decentralization are related concepts, the distinction between the two is very essential.

However, before we can distinguish between these two concepts, we must first define each of them.


Decentralization is a management philosophy and a form of organizational structure in which top management delegates authority to lower-level management.

It can also be defined as a specific form of organizational structure in which top management delegates major decision-making authority and responsibility to lower levels of management 


Delegation is the process whereby managers transfer decision making power and authority to subordinates.

Delegation is also defined as the sub-allocation and subdivision of decision making power to subordinates.

While delegation and decentralisation both involve the transfer of authority, they differ significantly, as explained in the next heading.

Differences Between Delegation And Decentralization.

1. Delegation is the transfer of decision making power to subordinates whereas decentralization is the diffusion of decision making power across the multiple layers of the organization.

2. Decentralisation creates semi-autonomous decision-making units in the organization, whereas delegation creates an authority-responsibility relationship between superiors and subordinates.

3. In delegation, the subordinate and superior share responsibility, with the superior having the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the subordinates complete their tasks (operating responsibility)

However, in decentralization, responsibility and accountability are all transferred.

4. Delegation is compulsory for every organization because managers cannot perform all of the tasks in the organization

On the other hand, decentralisation is discretionary because top management can choose to adopt it or not.

Top management does have a choice. Rather than decentralization, management may choose a highly centralized structure.

5. Decentralization is a structural dispersion of duties and decision-making power, whereas delegation is the process by which subordinates assign certain tasks and responsibilities within their control to subordinates.

6. Decentralisation is a management philosophy, whereas delegation is a management technique.

7. Delegation involves only the superior and his subordinate whereas decentralization involves spreading out the total decision-making power throughout the organization.

Simply put, delegation is individualistic whereas decentralization is totalistic

8. The degree of delegation varies from organization to organization.

In contrast, decentralization, if used, is usually total by nature.

9. In delegation, the delegator has control over the activities, whereas, in decentralisation, the department heads have control over the activities.

10. Delegation is the cause of decentralisation and decentralisation is the result of delegation.

11. Delegation is useful to all kinds of organisations. This is another reason why delegation is necessary for all organizations. 

In contrast,  decentralization is not suitable for small organizations. This is another reason why the use of decentralization is discretionary.

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