After reading this article you will learn about the difference and relationship between authority and responsibility.

Difference between Authority and Responsibility:


1. It is the legal right of a superior to command his subordinates.

2. Authority normally arises because of position of the boss in the organisation.


3. Authority can be delegated by a senior to his subordinate.

4. Authority flows downward from superior to subordinate.


1. It is the obligation of a subordinate to perform the work assigned to him by his superior.


2. Responsibility arises out of superior- subordinate relationship whereby the subordinate agrees to perform such duties as are assigned to him.

3. It cannot be delegated by the subordinate.

4. Responsibility moves in the upward direction from subordinate to superior.

Relationship between Authority and Responsibility:

Authority is the right of a superior to give orders and instructions to his subordinates to get things done. Responsibility means the duties assigned to a person at the time of delegation of authority. Responsibility also denotes the obligation of the subordinate to perform the duty to the best of his ability. It arises from the superior-subordinate relationship.


Authority can be delegated, but responsibility cannot be delegated. Authority moves downward. A superior can always share his authority with his subordinates, but he cannot delegate the responsibility or obligation to perform his duty.

Responsibility is owed to one’s superior. Therefore, no subordinate can avoid his responsibility by delegating some authority to his subordinate. Accountability always moves upward and so it cannot be delegated. Authority and responsibility are closely related. There should be a parity between the two. A subordinate will be answerable for the authority delegated to him and not beyond that.