Integration of Centralization and Decentralization in the Bahá'í Administrative Order

By Iraj Ayman

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #116
Bosch Bahá'í School: Santa Cruz, California, USA
May 30 – June 2, 2013
(see list of papers from #116)

Next presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #118
Centre for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
June 30 – July 4, 2013
(see list of papers from #118)

Next presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #121
Louhelen Bahá'í Center: Davison, Michigan, USA
October 10–13, 2013
(see list of papers from #121)

    The Universal House of Justice is a unique institution in the field, and discipline, of Public Administration. It is the only international governing council whose members, every five years, are internationally elected by all the members of its community, namely the Bahá'í s around the world, in a three-stage election, which is free from any kind of electioneering. It is the center of an order that "constitutes the very pattern of that divine civilization which the almighty Law of Bahá'u'lláh is designed to establish upon earth" [WOB 152]. Among its many features, it functions as the nerve center of an unprecedented administrative structure that combines the advantages of both centralized and decentralized systems of administration and management.

    The Bahá'í Administrative Order is an organic entity, gradually growing and developing under the care and guidance of the Universal House of Justice, which presents a solution to many of the challenges and problems in the field of Public Administration. This study concentrates on one of those issues and problems, i.e. centralized versus decentralized systems of administration, from the perspective of the Bahá'í pattern of administration. It also discusses the role and function of the Universal House of Justice, as well as other Bahá'í senior administrative intuitions, in relation to centralization and decentralization.

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