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Decentralisation: Removing Organisational Politics & Barriers

This week’s post is regarding decentralization in the workplace, which is due to the increasing number of freelancers, globalization, and the millennial workforce. Groth and Nisen (2013) from Business Insider Australia, discuss the growing trend in freelancers across the globe, with low skilled work being off-shored, higher skilled workers are increasing in value more than ever. The implications of these new dynamics across different sectors include virtual offices, remote work, and increased use of digital technology, enabling higher skilled workers to provide the most value in a decentralized format. While the benefits of decentralization decrease costs, the detriment may be to organizational cultures, tracking of key performance indicators, and keeping the organization in sync.

Role ambiguity as a catalyst for conflict

Increase productivity through minimisation of role ambiguity

Decentralization may be depicted as a means of knocking down organizational barriers, a flat structure of defining and allocating tasks, with no defined decision maker for one particular set of tasks. Rather, decentralization aims to increase productivity, through minimization of workplace politics and conflicts in roles. McShane, et al (2016) define decentralization, where the decision-making authority is dispersed across the organization, with little formalization or structure to operations. The benefits of decentralization enable teams to make decisions off the cuff, and maximizes creativity in execution of these decisions. Some teams may find that decentralization encourages individual accountability, and encourages innovative solutions.

The article suggests that decentralization may incorporate outsourcing of specialized work to specialist freelancers. Through use of the virtual workspace, freelancers are able to work from their home, decreasing associated costs with occupying office space. With decreased costs of infrastructure such as laptops and technology, freelancers are able to maximize these aspects, leveraging their ability to work remotely and leading relatively flexible lifestyles. However, the authors also acknowledge the downfall to hiring out specialists, which include “keeping everyone on the same page.” Although, the abundance of freelancing enables value to be added from anywhere across the globe, maximising the use of resources at your fingertips.

Incorporating decentralization in the workplace may tend to be a difficult organizational change. In particular, an organization that is heavily regulated, such as the public service or the military. However, one way that decentralization may be used, is the dispersement of decision making at the middle management level. In doing so, you are empowering those on the floor to make decisions quicker, and enabling a fluid process in their work. While a manager may be reluctant to do so, they are also placing more accountability on the individual to think about the work they are doing, rather than placing the accountability on the manager to come up with a solution. The reality is that, more people have a solution, or a set of solutions to a problem, and the manager may still be a source of knowledge in coming to a decision. Perhaps introducing a ‘coaching culture’ with continuous feedback, and monitoring could be introduced alongside decentralization to foster a positive organizational change. Overall, it would be a challenge to change the mindset of individuals on the floor, however I believe it could streamline the processes, which are inhibited by higher level decisions that may not be necessary.


Groth, A. & Nisen, M. (2013). A more decentralized workplace is becoming inevitable. Business Insider Australia. Retrieved from:

McShane, S., Olekalns, M., Newman, A., & Travaglione, T. (2016). Organizational behavior: Emerging knowledge, global insights. (5th ed). North Ryde, N.SW: McGraw-Hill

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