Business Studies Part I
Business Studies Part II

Elements of Delegation

  1. Authority: Authority refers to the right of an individual to command his subordinates and to take action within the scope of his position. The concept of authority arises from the established scalar chain which links the various job positions and levels of an organisation.Authority also refers to the right to take decisions inherent in a managerial position to tell people what to do and expect them to do it. In the formal organisation authority originates by virtue of an individual’s position and the extent of authority is highest at the top management levels and reduces successively as we go down the corporate ladder.  Thus, authority flows from top to bottom, i.e., the superior has authority over the subordinate. Authority relationships helps to maintain order in the organisation by giving the managers the right to exact obedience and give directions to the workforce under them. Authority determines the superior subordinate relationship wherein the superior communicates his decision to the subordinate, expecting compliance from him and the subordinate executes the decision as per the guidelines of the superior. The extent to which a superior can exact compliance also depends on the personality of the superior. It must be noted that authority is restricted by laws and the rules and regulation of the organisation, which limit its scope. However, as we go higher up in the management hierarchy, the scope of authority increases.
  2. Responsibility: Responsibility is the obligation of a subordinate to properly perform the assigned duty. It arises from a superior–subordinate relationship because the subordinate is bound to perform the duty assigned to him by his superior. Thus, responsibility flows upwards i.e., a subordinate will always be responsible to his superior. An important consideration to be kept in view with respect to both authority and responsibility is that when an employee is given responsibility for a job he must also be given the degree of authority necessary to carry it out. Thus, for effective delegation the authority granted must be commensurate with the assigned responsibility. If authority granted is more than responsibility, it may lead to misuse of authority, and if responsibility assigned is more than authority it may make a person ineffective.
  3. Accountability: Delegation of authority, undoubtedly empowers an employee to act for his superior but the superior would still be accountable for the outcome: Accountability implies being answerable for the final outcome. Once authority has been delegated and responsibility accepted, one cannot deny accountability. It cannot be delegated and flows upwards i.e., a subordinate will be accountable to a superior for satisfactory performance of work. It indicates that the manger has to ensure the proper discharge of duties by his subordinates. It is generally enforced through regular feedback on the extent of work accomplished. The subordinate will be expected to explain the consequences of his actions or omissions.

  Overview of the elements of delegation

S.No.BasisAuthorityResponsibilityAccountability
1MeaningAuthority refers to the right of an individual to command his subordinates and to take action within the scope of his position.Responsibility is the obligation of a subordinate to properly perform the assigned duty.Accountability implies being answerable for the final outcome, onee authority has been delegated and responsibility accepted, one cannot deny accountability.
2DelegationCan be delegated.Cannot be entirely delegated.Cannot be delegated at all.
3OriginArises from formal position in the organisation.Arises from delegated authority.Arises from responsibility.
4FlowFlows downward from superior to subordinate.Flows upward from subordinate to superior.Flows upward from subordinate to superior.

 

  1. Manik is supposed to give regular feedback about work to Atul as he has been granted authority and entrusted responsibility, so he remains answerable for the outcome.
  2. Yes, the authority granted to a subordinate can be taken back and re-delegated to another person.
  3. Yes, Manik can be held responsible for not meeting the work related expectations of Atul as it is the obligation of a subordinate to perform the assigned duty to the best of his ability and skill.

S.No.

Basis

Authority

Responsibility

Accountability

1.

Origin

Arises from formal position in the organisation.

Arises from delegated authority.

Arises from responsibility.

2.

Flow

Flows downward from superior to subordinate.

Flows upward from subordinate to superior.

Flows upward from subordinate to superior.