Assessment of Decentralization and Empowerment in a Large Metropolitan Fire Department   [open pdf - 71KB]

"Management styles are constantly changing. In recent literature there has been an emphasis for public service organizations to be managed like those in the private sector. As an outgrowth of this trend, public sector organizations have begun to place emphasis on viewing the public as an important customer. In order to better understand and react to customer needs, many private and public organizations are decentralizing their operations and empowering people within the organization with more decision-making authority. In 1995 the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) began this process. The purpose of this research project was to determine how successful this program has been and to develop an understanding of what areas need to be addressed. The study employed an evaluative research methodology. The survey questions to be answered were: 1. How effective has decentralization been on day-to-day operations within the Department? 2. How effective has empowerment been as it relates to responsiveness to the needs of individual commands? 3. How effective has empowerment been as it relates to responding to the needs of the communities that individual stations serve? 4. Is the concept of decentralization and empowerment clearly understood within the Department? 5. What are some of the operational effects that have resulted from empowerment and decentralization? A questionnaire was developed and distributed to 39 field Battalion Chiefs. The findings indicated that the community has benefitted from empowerment. However, there are several areas that were not addressed adequately when the program was first instituted. Areas were identified in which to concentrate future efforts in order to guarantee long-term success."

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United States. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Learning Resource Center: http://www.lrc.fema.gov/
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