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The Administrative Theory of DECENTRALISATION SARAH ZAID AL-BITAR MODERN PUBLIC ADMINISTARTION “The only way to control chaos and complexity is to give up some of that control” Gyan Nagpal. This quote represents the reality behind the rising new public management techniques, specifically decentralization. Decentralization is considered the opposing idea of a former theory, centralization, implemented during the trend and era of traditional public administration. Centralization is when decision-making is solely focused at the central government, which results in the government’s alienation and isolation from the public. The top-down nature of centralization also makes it flawed in the eyes of the public, and as a theory itself. The introduction of decentralization hence eliminates the criticisms and hindrance of centralization. By definition, decentralization is an administrative theory that involves moving decision making from central government closer to the local and regional authorities, and responds to demands of diversity. Therefore, the introduction to the theory of decentralization led to its widespread implementation during the late 1980s. This paper aims to tackle to concept of administrative decentralization in its many forms, the driving forces behind it, conditions where it is most effective and its downsides. Being a citizen in Jordan, I also aim to answer the question as to how decentralization is implemented in Jordan and give my personal analysis upon my findings. Administrative decentralization is not a standard theory in itself, it comes in two major forms being deconcentration and devolution. The first form introduced after the trend of centralization was deconcentration; authority and decision making are at the central level leaving only implementation of decisions to be decentralized. Therefore, this form obtains a similar traditional hierarchical structure to centralization, where orders flow from higher to lower levels. In addition, the local government is accountable to the central government. The reason why this form of decentralization is considered one of the weakest forms of decentralization is because although it is a great step away from the total concentrated authority of centralization, it still remains limiting in its freedom and autonomy. This ultimately resulted in its criticism, one including the disengagement of local authority and citizens. Therefore, upon the failure on deconcentration, the introduction of devolution was considered the more idealistic, radical and favored form of decentralization. Devolution is the type of decentralization where all authority is decentralized, and the accountability is towards to local population. The term devolution comes from “devolving” of functions, meaning the transferring of power from central to lower levels. This form also eliminated the weaknesses regarding deconcentration and improved the idea of decentralization where local citizens and lower levels can exercise more power and have more freedom in decision policy making, hence increasing their overall empowerment and satisfaction. The implementation of decentralization is not a decision at random. There are several driving forces that motivate governments to implement it within their structure. One of the reasons is that decentralization results in more effective decision making due to increased mobility, as the local levels will hugely impact decision making by increasing exposure and responsiveness to the current needs and complaints of the general public. Therefore, this will also increase the public institutions efficiency and performance when making decisions, as they would not be exhausting their recourses when implementing the unfavored decision in the eyes of the public (and in the long run, the party). Decentralization also supports the involvement of subordinates, which increasing their motivation and satisfaction with the decisions, as well as their level of empowerment. When authority is decentralized, accountability is spread across the individuals rather than being the center government, which may be considered a driving force. If implemented correctly, decentralization could reduce poverty as transparency and responsiveness is increased. This consequently allows the party to respond to the socio-economic factors and other factors that could potentially result in poverty and hence reduce the risk of systemic failure. However, not all these driving forces will be noticed unless the party recognizes and meets the essential conditions. In order to achieve the maximum benefits of decentralization, important criteria must be met. If not, the party will notice few of at most-not any of the advantages mentioned above. Alongside having sufficient recourses, building accountability and coordination mechanisms, clearly assigned responsibilities, the major contributor to the success of decentralization within a governments structure is its citizen’s participation. That is, because decentralization should be a principle of dual satisfaction between the party of the people, the party will benefit more if its people are involved. Involving the people in the participation process could be direct, meaning that the citizens directly engage in the decision-making process regarding matters that they value. Or the participation could be indirect, which is a limited role that involves citizens involvement though the representatives they elect. Some mechanisms of participation include elections, surveys, town meetings, direct community, exit, participatory planning and budgeting, monitoring and evaluation. Therefore, to achieve successful decentralization, the government efforts should place its people in the center acknowledging the prominent correlation between participation and performance. As idealistic and faultless the implementation of decentralization seems, it not a panacea (--) and may lead to some disadvantages. To begin with, the implementation of any administrative theory has to be weighed with the culture and nature of the party itself. For some parties, the implementation of such theory will not be fitted for services that are originally routine-based, therefore instead of receiving higher efficiency and effectiveness, the government will anticipate quite the opposite as well as experiencing loss in the economies of scale. Therefore, before implementation, the party should assess its strengths and weaknesses whether this reform corresponds with the nature of the service. Jordan is one of the countries that implements decentralization. The emergence of decentralization in Jordan was an effort to achieve its vision of empowering citizens to participate in decision making process, which will enhance governates potential. Through decentralization, the elected councils are held accountable and recognize citizen needs and wants consequently improve responsiveness and improve its services (Hani al Mulki, 2017). The process of decentralization is aimed to delegate authority including financial and administrative power in decision making and to increase its effectives, it aims to focus of service delivery in terms of policy and regulatory functions. Also, the central governments roles of responsibilities will be affected through the incorporation of decentralization. Hence the responsiveness will increase drastically especially when the duplication of roles is eliminated, and the governate will be positioned closer to the people. The major focus of decentralization centers on increasing citizen participation within its structure in order to improve the connection between the governates and the people, this includes promoting transparency and accountability. I agree with this statement to a great extent. The idea of decentralization is considered the opposing theory to centralization, meaning that decision making extends farther than only to higher levels. The underlying purpose of decentralization is to improve the efficiency, resourse allocation, accountability and overall result in dual satisfaction between the people and the government. Participation and involvement of the people whether directly or indirectly will institutionalize citizens vote and voice, and will improve the governments adaptation hence increasing public awareness. Hence decentralization, which is considered as a public reform trajectory, is solely effective if it places the people as its core. The party should understand the importance of connecting to the people, as there is a strong link between participation and performance. To conclude, I strongly believe the implementation of decentralization is done with and for the people or else, the implementation is hypocritical.