Difference between Authority and Responsibility

Key difference: Authority and Responsibility are two sides of the same coin. The term ‘authority’ stands for power or rights assigned to an individual to make decisions, whereas ‘responsibility’ is a duty to maintain and manage the assigned authority.

Authority and Responsibility are the basic functions considered at the primary stage in a management system. In successful enterprises, these are the basic functions that are maintained by the respective superior authorities of an organization. Moreover, responsibility is often considered as control and management over something.

Authority is an entity or power to enforce certain laws, rules and expectations. An authoritative power is always granted with the freedom of taking decisions and managing necessary controls, for the benefits of an organization. The great Henri Fayol described authority as, “the right to give orders and the power to exact obedience”. Without authority, a manager ceases to be a manager, because he cannot get his policies carried out through others. Hence, it is considered to be one of the founding stones of formal and informal organizations. It flows downwards in an organization, i.e. it works from the upper superiors to the lower followers.

Responsibility is an entity which is prone to follow and obey some specifically assigned rules in order to accomplish a task. To maintain responsibility is actually a tough task. The actions taken by a typically responsible party have a moral, ethical, or rational foundation. Responsibility according to Davis, is defined as "an obligation of individual to perform assigned duties to the best of his ability under the direction of his executive leader." It is a relationship, in which a person is responsible to ensure and guarantee the accomplishment of an assigned task. In a business organization, responsibility is solely dependent on the authoritative managers to manage and conduct the operations. These are performed in order to uplift the organization.

Authority and responsibility are notable features in the field of management. There are various authoritative powers in the society, which are solely responsible for conducting and following operations and tasks related to development. The authoritative powers are to be managed with the all care and effort possible, in order to maintain stability in an organization. On the other hand, responsible duties have to be followed with by working hard and observing good management. They both work in correspondence to one another in a business enterprise.

Comparison between Authority and Responsibility:




Web definitions

Authority is the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

Responsibility is the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something, or of having control over someone.


It is power.

It is a duty.

Main functions

Here, orders and commands play a vital role.

Here, duties and obedience play a vital role.

Time duration

It stays for a longer period as compared to responsibility.

It gets completed with the completion of the task so it has a shorter period.

Direction Flow

It flows downwards.

It flows upwards.


It can be delegated to others.

It cannot be delegated.


The right of a manager to command his subordinates.

The obligation of a subordinate to complete an assigned work.

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authority and responsibility work in hand

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