Wikipedia defines Enterprise Architecture as follows:
An enterprise architecture (EA) is a rigorous description of the structure of an enterprise, its decomposition into subsystems, the relationships between the subsystems, the relationships with the external environment, the terminology to use, and the guiding principles for the design and evolution of an enterprise. This description is comprehensive, including enterprise goals, business functions, business process, roles, organisational structures, business information, software applications and computer systems. Practitioners of EA call themselves "enterprise architects."
An enterprise architect is a person responsible for developing the enterprise architecture and is often called upon to draw conclusions from it. By producing an enterprise architecture, architects are providing a tool for identifying opportunities to improve the enterprise, in a manner that more effectively and efficiently pursues its purpose.
As a company grows, the enterprise architecture has a tendency to fracture (if it existed at all) and become a big ball of mud.
Unfortunately at that point, any individual development group within a company is usually not structured or positioned properly to create an enterprise architecture, and there is usually little incentive for any particular group to do so since they are focused on their business problems.
On the flip side, creating a separate "architecture group" that is not closely aligned with the business priorities and delivers from on high what architecture should be isn't sufficient either since the work they do usually falls on death ears by those people doing the "real work."
What then is the best way to create and guide an enterprise architecture?