Balancing centralization and decentralization management at University of Bahrain

Date01 April 2019
Published date01 April 2019
AuthorBassam Mohamed Alhamad,Rama Aladwan
Subject MatterEducation,Educational evaluation/assessment
Balancing centralization and
decentralization management
at University of Bahrain
Bassam Mohamed Alhamad and Rama Aladwan
Quality Assurance and Accreditation Center,
University of Bahrain, Sakhir, Bahrain
Purpose There is no such thing as a trulycentralized or decentralized management system. Withregard
to universities, most of the key areas in universities are centralized, e.g. nance, personnel, curriculum,
management and quality. These key areas will exhibit a higher impact on learning and research by
maintaining the appropriatebalance between centralization and decentralization approaches. The purposeof
this paper is to study the key features of balanced management implemented within the internal quality
assurance system at the University of Bahrain. Areas of such balance will be explained while showingthe
pros and cons ofeach management approach.
Design/methodology/approach In this paper, both quantitativeand qualitative surveys were used to
study this balancedapproach.
Findings The centralization approach at the university maintained systematic compliance through
the development of policies and procedures, quality structure and a clear framework for quality
enhancement. Centralization ensured consistency in quality, programmes and activities. It also
maintained diffusion of innovation, for example, sharing and transferring the knowledge of international
accreditation practices to other colleges. The balance of the centralized with the decentralized
management approach provided additional advantages. For example, the management shared the visio n
of decentralization to raise the level of responsibility and accountability. The management provided an
acceptable level of authority to take on spot decisions; hence, building expertise at the decentralized
levels. However, this would require support and capacity building to ensure directlyresponsible persons,
who can take on spot decisions. The ownership of the self-improvement cycles was implemented at the
level of the departments and colleges.
Practical implications This study showed that this balanced management had a great inuence to
maximize the benets of theinternal quality assurance (IQA) system, as it showedthat 71.4 and 67.3 per cent
of the academicand administrativestaff, respectively, found that the IQA system was effective.
Originality/value This balancedapproach would guide the universities to enhance its qualitysystem by
organizingits structure, processes and systems ina harmonized nature.
Keywords Management, Higher education, Decentralization, Centralization, Quality system
Paper type Case study
1. Introduction
Centralization or decentralization are not goals but are means to achieve the dened goals.
Consequently, under given conditions the rationale behind qualitatively strengthening a
centralized system rather than decentralizing it can be quite persuasive. Terms such as
walking on two legs, that is combining bothcentralized and decentralized approaches are
essential towards governing and enhancing education (Hawkins, 2000). The trade-offs
between the advantages and disadvantages of centralization and decentralization in terms
of accountability, authority, decision-making, faster processes and uniformity had always
been an issue, (Tommasiand Weinschelbaum, 2007).
Received14 January 2018
Revised9 September 2018
30January 2019
16March 2019
22March 2019
Accepted25 March 2019
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.27 No. 2, 2019
pp. 237-250
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-01-2018-0005
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