Advantages and Disadvantages of Centralisation / Centralization
Centralisation is defined as the process by which political power is located in a single central decision making body. The highest degree of centralization is achieved where all powers of government are vested in a central authority.
The degree of centralization is highest in a unitary state. Britain, France, etc. are centralised states. In some political-systems, they may see the need for some degree of centralization of power.
Advantages of Centralisation
The main advantages of centralization include the following:
- It leads to uniformity of policies especially in the areas of national security, defence, taxation, transportion and education. For example, primary and secondary school students in Ghana wear the same uniform prescribed by the Ministry of Education and this makes it possible to identify students.
- It enhances proper planning. Planning is the process of defining the goals and objectives of an institution and at the same time, specifying the means of achieving them. Such a process requires a lot of date and information, which may only be available to the central government. Planning will also enable the benefits of development to be distributed to every part of the country or organization. The centralised planning of the economy in the former USSR largely accounted for the country’s rapid development particularly during the Stalin era.
- Centralization leads to efficient and judicious allocation and use of resources. Wastage and unnecessary duplication of activities is avoided.
- It reduces to a minimum the level of conflict between central and local units. This is especially the case because the local units derive their powers from the central bodies to which they are subordinate.
- Matters that are of common concern to both the central and local units are more easily resolved in centralized administration.
- It is cheap and easy to operate. The cost of administration is reduced and it is easy to locate responsibility.
- It is easy to secure the allegiance and undivided loyalty of citizens or members of an institution.
- A centralized administration is strong and powerful.
- It leads to even development of the country as political leader tend to be concerned largely with the uniform development of the whole country.
- It promotes national unity, as there is only one central symbol of authority.
Disadvantages of Centralisation
The disadvantages of centralization include the following:
- Centralization promotes too much bureaucracy and therefore slows down work in an institution. The decision-making process is slow and, sometimes delayed, and the result is that officials at regional or local levels may have to wait endlessly for decisions that may never come.
- In a centralized administrative system, it is only a few people at the centre who take decisions that affect the whole country or organization. This produces two negative effects. First, the few central administrators are overworked and as a result, decision-making may be delayed and many things will be left undone while, some others will not be properly done. Second, the officials who work outside the headquarters are alienated from the system and may therefore lack a sense of belonging.
- Central government officials may become demi-gods and sacrifice national or organization interest for selfish interest.
- It stifles local initiatives. Officials at the local level can hardly take decisions on their own, as they have to wait for instructions from the central office.
- Centralization may lead to waste of human and material resources. Because decisions are not taken in good time materials purchased for a specific project may lie idle for a long period and be destroyed by the elements. In the same vein, officials at branch offices who are usually underutilized begin to lose their special skills and talents, and even sometimes divert their energy to unproductive purposes.
- It promotes corruption and inefficiency as the few central officials may not be able to cope with the public demand for the services of the organization.
- Centralization negates an important principle of democracy, which suggests that people should be given the opportunity to participate in the management of their own affairs. The local people are in a better position to identify their problems and proffer solution to them. Centralization thus denies the people the opportunity of being trained in local governance.