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Concepts of Authority, Responsibility and Accountability - Organizing


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Concepts of Authority, Responsibility and Accountability - Organizing

Concepts of Authority, Responsibility and Accountability

Concepts of Authority, Responsibility, and Accountability:

Authority: Authority is the right to give order and the power to exact obedience. (Henri Fayol) Similarly, Authority is the right to act or command others to act towards the attainment of organizational goals.(S.P. Robbins)


  1. It is the right to give orders and make decision.
  2. It is provided by position by organization.
  3. If flows from top to bottom.
  4. It can be delegated to subordinates.

Responsibility: It is an obligation of individual to perform assigned duties to the best of his ability under the direction of his executive leaders.(Davis)


  1. It is obligation to perform assigned jobs.
  2. It arises from delegation of authority.
  3. It flows upward.
  4. Responsibility should equals authority.
  5. Responsibility cannot be delegated.

Accountability: It is the obligation of an individual to report formally to his superior about the work he has to done to discharge the responsibility. (Mc. Farland) It is the obligation to carry out responsibility and exercise authority in terms of performance standards established. ( L Allen)


  1. It is answerability for satisfactory performance of assigned jobs.
  2. It arises both from authority and responsibility.
  3. It flows upward.
  4. It cannot be delegated.

Delegation of Authority

(Responsibility-Obligation, Authority-Power, Accountability-answerable)

Delegation of authority is one vital organization process. It is inevitable along with the expansion and growth of the business organization. Delegation means assigning of duty or task with necessary authority by superior to subordinates. In other words, Delegation is the transfer of authority to subordinates to enable them to make decisions and use resources. According to Griffin.” Delegation is the process by which a manager assigns a portion of his or her total workload to others”

Features of Delegation of Authority:

  1. Assigning responsibility: It creates obligation on the part of the receiver to perform the assigned duty.
  2. Granting authority: It grants sufficient authority to accomplish the giver assignment.
  3. Creation of accountability: Accountability is a system making people answerable towards those who delegate them authority in the management hierarchy. Thus, delegation of authority creates the accountability towards the superior.

Advantages of Delegation of Authority:

  1. It provides managers the opportunity to seek and accept increased responsibility from higher- level management.
  2. It reduces the workload to top management. It can concentrate on important and strategic issues.
  3. It causes employees to accept accountability and exercise judgment.
  4. It leads to better decisions, because the decision maker is close to place of action and has a clearer view of facts.
  5. It is an important method of developing managers and staffs in decision making. This also creates in them a sense of accountability.

Principles of Delegation of Authority

  1. Parity of Authority and Responsibility: There must be balance between authority delegated and responsibility created. Since responsibility without authority makes managers ineffective and authority without responsibility makes managers irresponsible in their acts.
  2. Unity of command: There must be one boss for one sub-ordinate.
  3. Scalar Chain: Authority should be delegated from top to bottom.
  4. Result-oriented: Authority should be delegated to accomplish expected goals.
  5. Absolute Responsibility: Responsibility cannot be delegated. Superior from whom the authority is delegated is also responsible for the act of the subordinates to whom the authority is delegated.
  6. Management by exception: Except the major or exceptional matters, all the decision making under the converge of authority should be taken by the subordinates to whom the authority is delegated.
  7. Acceptance: Subordinates should show willingness to accept authority and consider one-self responsible and accountable for it.

Barriers of Delegation of Authority:

  1. Employees may try to avoid or not to accept additional responsibilities.
  2. The delegation process is hindered because some managers lack confidence and trust in lower-level employees.
  3. The fear of competition from lower level is also a barrier to effective delegation. Some managers fear that their subordinates do better job than what they do.
  4. Employees may be reluctant (unwilling) to accept additional responsibility, as there are no extra monetary gains for such additional work.

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