What are the advantages and disadvantages of retaining some power differences

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An advantage of maintaining multiple centers of power or authority within an organzation is that it precludes excessive power from concentrating at one desk at the expense of broader corporate interests.  It also provides, at least in theory, an internal system of checks and balances, so that malfeasance or incompetence at one center of power cannot override the other centers of power.  

At another level, multiple centers of power within an organization is more likely to preclude the kinds of psychological phenomena that can lead to disaster.  These phenomena include "group think," in which individuals are reluctant to openly disagree with the majority opinion, especially if that majority is overwhelming.  Such reluctance can prevent the top decision-makers from receiving points of view that may need to be heard.  In cases where the top official in an organization is particularly strong-willed and even intimidating to his or her subordinates, multiple centers of authority can provide an essential buffer allowing subordinates to be heard.

A disadvantage of multiple centers of power or authority is the possibility of a corporate stalemate, in which decisions cannot be arrived at because of disagreements between those centers.  Lost opportunities can be the result of a decision-making process that is overly cumbersome by virtue of the number of high-level officials with the authority to influence outcomes.

Another potential disadvantage of diffusing authority within an organization is the possibility of collusion among top officials that can lead to negative outcomes.  Conversely, corporate politics can put an operation at risk if diffuse centers of power become preoccupied with internal political maneuvering among each other and lose focus on corporate well-being.  

Clearly, decision-making at the top of an organization is more streamlined and efficient the fewer "cooks there are in the kitchen."  Such an organizational structure also tends to have clearer lines of authority and greater accountability at the top.  In the end, personalities incompatible with particular corporate structures will lead to confusion and poor decision making.  

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