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Centralization: Pros and Cons for Small Businesses

Small businesses must make important decisions to ensure the company is successful and able to grow. One of these decisions is the management structure the business will abide by. There are several management structure options small businesses have, including centralization. Here we explore what centralization is, the benefits and disadvantages of this leadership structure and answers to several frequently asked questions about centralization in small businesses.


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What is centralization?

Centralization is a management process that revolves around a single leader who makes all the decisions and plans for the organization. which are then sent down to other offices to enforce. A centralized business can be led by either a single leader, a small group of people or a department that controls the decisions for the entire company.

Related: Goals vs. Objectives in Business: A Guide for Managers


Benefits of centralization for small businesses

Centralized leadership offers several benefits for small businesses, including:


Clear leadership

A centralized business provides a clear chain of command for who’s responsible for making certain decisions and who employees should report to. Centralization also gives employees a precise understanding of who to go to with any issues or concerns. This clear delineation as to who’s in charge and who’s responsible for making decisions can eliminate overlap when important choices need to be made.


Timely enactment of decisions

With only a few people involved in decision-making, the overall process can be much more efficient and can also be effectively delegated to the appropriate employees.


Minimized administrative costs

Using a centralized approach in a small business helps reduce administrative costs by minimizing the need for several leadership departments. A clear chain of command reduces the need for several employees to share decision-making responsibilities and allows employees to focus on other aspects of their work, thus reducing costs associated with workload.


Disadvantages of centralization for small businesses

There may also be disadvantages to centralization for small businesses to consider, including:


A bureaucratic leadership style

Employees may feel like they have no say in the decision-making process of the organization and are merely there to enact decisions that come down from the head office. This could result in declined performance and lack of motivation in the workplace.


Limited communication

Because a centralized leadership style has a small group of people making decisions, communication among employees and management is often stifled. This is especially true in smaller businesses where the office is made up of only a few employees. 


Lack of flexibility

Centralization often results in rigid decision-making that comes directly from a leader or head office. Newer small businesses often require at least some level of flexibility to thrive as they may still be gaining footing in their market and building a name for themselves. Limiting this flexibility with a centralized leadership approach can slow down operations and reduce responsiveness.


Frequently asked questions about centralization


What are the characteristics of decentralization?

A decentralized business delegates decision-making and daily operations to lower- and middle-management by top management. By delegating the decision-making process away from a central leader or group within the organization, more employees are included in planning and decisions that are directly related to their department, which gives them a say in the company’s operations.


What is an example of a centralized company?

Trucking companies are a great example of centralized management. Most trucking companies are run by a group of trucking managers who oversee all operations and decisions for the organization. The managers then send information down to individual drivers who carry out these decisions and plans. 


What are the types of centralization?

There are a few different types of centralization that companies can implement within their management. These types include:

  • Departmental centralization: This type of centralization is based on different departments within an organization. Each department has a head office or leader who makes the decisions for that department.
  • Management centralization: This is the most common type of centralization. Management centralization is when one person or one department makes all decisions for an entire organization.
  • Geographic centralization: This type of centralization is often seen in larger companies that have locations in various areas. Each location has its own leader or group of leaders who make decisions for that location.

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