Is Leadership a Vital element in Grameen Bank Successful Replication? A replication program was launched by Grameen Bank in 1989 with an aim of contributing to and participating in the global crusade against poverty. Due to the reported success of Grameen bank, more than 100 replications have been created worldwide with widespread financial support from donor agencies. Leadership has played a major role in the early stages of the replication program design and in its development process. Successful replication depends directly on the commitment and creativity of the leadership and its ability to carve out a market niche.
Grameen Bank replication is a very crucial program since it will help in alleviating poverty through the targeted credit. Grameen’s Bank expansion in approximately 50% of all villages in Bangladesh is a good example of its wide replication. Leadership has played a great part in Grameen’s expansion and inception. Leadership whether individual or group, is believed to be the most important aspect of success of social entrepreneurial ventures. The structure of control in Grameen Bank is basically participative, decentralized and democratic. It does not emerge from the organization higher echelon, but from the combined actions of members, based on the values, philosophy or corporate vision provided by the top management.
The organization structure of Grameen Bank is highly decentralized. Actually, the authority is delegated to the field level where planning and implementation of the actual work takes place. The decentralized structure has been developed over the years through a trial and error method responding to the needs of the clients. The rapid expansion of the bank is attributed to its decentralized management process. However, decentralization process was not initiated by the bank, but it evolved as a part of its growth process.
Grameen Bank has a decentralized, pyramidal banking structure including zonal offices, area offices, branch offices, centers, lending units, and a head office in Dhaka. The principle lending units at the village level are the solidarity groups. The management and decision making functions powers have been delegated to lower levels through decentralization. Democratic leadership practices are in place within the rotation among members of centre and group leadership. Grameen bank has established a unique management culture, based on people’s innovation and learning, capacities, honesty, openness and transparency etc.
. This culture has created a framework through which regulation of organizational activities takes place. The bank managerial structure is well-knit making it very adaptive and flexible. All management processes are practiced contingently including leadership, communication and decision making. A unique feature of the bank’s management structure is the high level of autonomy given to the field offices. Since many decision making roles are devolved to the field offices, the head office has the capability of focusing on broader issues of policy and development without worrying on minor decision processes.
According to Sarker (2001), the main factor that has contributed to the success of the Grameen Bank is the way it is organized and managed. Its organizational system has evolved over the years in accordance to the specific developmental needs of the targeted group. The chief executive of the bank is the managing director. The major responsibility of the managing director is the overall implementation of the policies as well as maintaining close contact with departmental heads and zonal managers to assist in formulating and changing policies.
Unlike other banks where clients have to go for services, Grameen Bank officials go to the clients. Clients are encouraged to form groups before they receive services from the bank. When a group is formed, it is monitored by a bank official to ensure that its members are adhering to the rules and norms set by the bank. Group members are also trained for at least seven days by the bank officials. Through the training they are they are introduced to the rules and regulations of the bank, and social development activities.