There is no such thing as a truly centralized or decentralized management system. With regard to universities, most of the key areas in universities are centralized, e.g. finance, personnel, curriculum, management and quality. These key areas will exhibit a higher impact on learning and research by maintaining the appropriate balance between centralization and decentralization approaches. The purpose of 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 showing the pros and cons of each management approach.
In this paper, both quantitative and qualitative surveys were used to study this balanced approach.
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 vision 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 directly responsible persons, who can take on spot decisions. The ownership of the self-improvement cycles was implemented at the level of the departments and colleges.
This study showed that this balanced management had a great influence to maximize the benefits of the internal quality assurance (IQA) system, as it showed that 71.4 and 67.3 per cent of the academic and administrative staff, respectively, found that the IQA system was effective.
This balanced approach would guide the universities to enhance its quality system by organizing its structure, processes and systems in a harmonized nature.
Alhamad, B. and Aladwan, R. (2019), "Balancing centralization and decentralization management at University of Bahrain", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 237-250. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAE-01-2018-0005Download as .RIS
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