Centralized Verses Decentralized: A Tale Of Two Structures

1074 words - 5 pages

Centralized Verses Decentralized: A Tale of Two Structures
Leroy Dowdy
Walden University
Dr. Gayle Grant
08 April 2012
Centralized Verses Decentralized: A Tale of Two Structures
The history of information technology (IT) has been well documented over the previous decades. The contributions of IT vary, but perhaps the most notable is the influence on organizational structuring. Prior to the information age, organizations predominately operated within a centralized structure (Mukherji, 2002). In a centralized structure, decision-making resided at senior levels and was executed within a formal structure. Conversely, a decentralized structure distributes decision-making in an ...view middle of the document...

The study found that only 10% of their data was properly archived and less than 1% of their data was still readable using current technology. In response to these findings, Campus A’s archive director collaborated across other departments to create alliances with other offices that were affected by the accuracy of online records. These alliances created a pool of personnel who were in positions to influence the level of effort required to implement electronic record keeping successfully. Campus B, on the other hand, chose to review a small sample of administrative issues. Additionally, rather than solely utilize a grant to support their effort; Campus B also used school funds to hire a new staff to create policy and experiment with various pilot record keeping projects. The lack of clarity of the problem, allocating additional in-house funds, and hiring outside of their organization created self-imposed challenges that would be hard to overcome.
The Way Ahead
This author’s research suggests universities have migrated away from a purely centralized structure in favor of hybrid structures. Pardee (2004) examined the structures of universities as identified by the Sixth National Survey on Academic Advising. The survey concluded that 55% of targeted universities utilized a hybrid or shared organizational structure to conduct advising functions. The shared structure takes the advising function and divides it between the traditional advising center and the academic department of enrolled students (Pardee, 2004). In order to determine which structure is appropriate, leadership should consider the size of the institution, the role of senior leaders, and the composition of the student body. If the university is large and requires substantial real estate, decentralization may be the most effective and economical solution. Some institutions maintain advising functions at the provost or vice president level. This situation may be best served by the hybrid structure. This allows university leaders to funnel guidance from the centralized layered down through the decentralized layers at the academic department levels. Michalak, Faceilli, and Drew (1999) add credence to this third structuring option. Michalak et al. surmise that the decentralized structure has lessened the effectiveness of IT due to the lack of transparency and cohesion with senior administrators when implementing new technologies. By implementing a certain level of centralized and decentralized activities, an organization can benefit from upper management decisions and IT advances.
The two case studies illustrate the impacts that IT and...

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