After reading this article you will learn about the delegation of authority and principles related to it.

Delegation of Authority:

It means giving someone permission to do certain things. For example, the supervisor gives a worker permission to run a machine and to use materials; the sales manager gives a salesman permission to call on customers in a given area and to enter into contracts for the delivery of products. It means the supervisor and the sales manager have authority to take such action and they simply extend this permission to people working for him.

Relationship created by delegation:

The process of delegation has three aspects:


(i) The assignment of ‘duties’ by an executive to his immediate subordinates.

(ii) The granting of authority to his immediate subordinate to make commitment, use resources and take other actions necessary to perform the duties.

(iii) The creation of responsibility on the part of each subordinate to the executive for the satisfactory performance of the duties.

Recognised Principles Related to Delegation of Authority:

The following three basic principles are related to delegation:


1. Responsibility cannot be delegated.

2. Avoid dual subordination.

3. Co-equality of authority and responsibility.

1. Responsibility cannot be Delegated:


An executive may think that once he has del­egated a duty to a subordinate, he has responsibility for its proper performance. Similarly a subordinate may feel that once his boss has delegated a duty to him, the boss should not be concerned with it. This is a false notion.

This can be explained by the following:

Suppose top official A assigns duties to executive B and the executive B makes in turn to subordinate C. The re-delegation by executive B does not relieve him to his responsibility to his senior A. A has still the same authority, he had before, although he may voluntarily restrict his actions so as to keep the work going to C, and he still is accountable for the result achieved.

The re-delegations, it is true, has created an additional set of relationships between execu­tive B and his subordinate C. The flow of obligation then becomes C to B to A, but executive B cannot duck out.


2. Avoid Dual Subordination:

It is a recognised fact that a man cannot serve two masters well and this idea leads to condemnation of dual subordination in modern administration. There­fore, in an organization, a subordinate should always report to one boss only. Passing of instruc­tions may lead to dual subordination. Dual subordination decreases the moral of workers.

3. Co-Equality of Authority and Responsibility:

Co-equality of authority and responsi­bility is the most widely recognised principle of organisation. In any organisation ‘authority’ and responsibility’ both go together, unless a man is given necessary authority to perform cer­tain duties he cannot be held responsible.


‘Responsibility’ may be defined as the obligation of a subordinate for the performance of any job allotted by the superior. As the superior officer cannot perform all the activities of a business alone, therefore, some men must be there to assist him and to whom certain responsibilities and authority may be delegated.

Suppose, if you are given authority to act in disciplinary cases including suspension or discharge, you will also be hold responsible for the strikes and consequent shutdowns that may occur from certain mistakes on your part. So in this way we can say that authority can never be completely delegated but it can only be shared. So, the authority and responsibility both go together.

Therefore, the rule that authority and responsibility be equal, is sound, provided that:

The authority that can and should be delegated is often limited and consequently, an indi­vidual can be held strictly responsible to the extent that actions are really subject to his control and a person can be expected to feel a sense of responsibility even though his authority is confined.