Empowerment is currently one of the most popular business buzzwords. But is it just a fad? Will it soon pass the way of countless other business trends? The logic in this article shows why greater decentralization in business is not just a fad but a response to fundamental changes in the economics of decision making enabled by new information technologies. Of course, decentralization may never occur in some cases, and greater centralization may occur before increased decentralization in others. But in the knowledge-based economy that is emerging, globally connected, decentralized decision makers will play increasingly important roles. Figuring out how to design effective decentralized systems and how to manage the continually shifting balance between empowerment and control will not be easy. But I believe that mastering this challenge will be one of the most important differences between organizations that succeed in the next century and those that fail.