Difference Between Authority and Responsibility


Main Difference

The main difference between authority and responsibility is that authority is the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience and responsibility is the capacity or fact of having a job to deal with something, or of having domination over someone.

Authority vs. Responsibility

Authority is the right of a preferable to give orders and directions to his subordinates to get things done. Responsibility means the duties authorized to a person at the time of delegation of authority. Authority can be designated, but responsibility cannot be designated. The term ‘authority’ stands for aptitude or rights authorized to an individual to make decisions, whereas ‘responsibility’ is a contract to maintain and manage the assigned authority. Authority normally arises because of the position of the boss in the organization. Responsibility arises out of superior-subordinate relationship whereby the subordinate agrees to perform such duties as are assigned to him.


Comparison Chart

Authority is the power or right to grant orders, make decisions, and enforce duty.Responsibility is the case or fact of having a duty to deal with something, or of having domination over someone.
Here, orders and commands play an imperative role.Here, duties and obedience play an imperative role.
Ability to give orders.Ability to follow orders.
Its flow is downward.Its flow is upward.
Go on for a long period.Ends, as soon as the task is adapted.
It is power.It is a duty.
It can be a delegate to others.It cannot be a delegate.
Results From
Formal position in an organizationSuperior-subordinate relationship
To make decisions and implement them.To execute duties, assigned by superior.

What is Authority?

Authority is the lawful right to give the command, order or instruction and compel the subordinates to do a certain act. The legal and academic right of the manager or supervisor or any of the top level executives, of the organization to command juniors, give them orders, instructions and directions, and access obedience. The manager is designated to make decisions, concerning performance or non-performance of a task in a particular manner, to accomplish organizational objectives. It composes of some permissions and the right to act for the organization in a particular area. Authority is the capacity of a person or an institution to conduct a certain lifestyle for another person or a group. Authority is known as one of the bases of society and stands across cooperation. Maintaining lifestyle patterns as a result of authority is called obedience and authority as a concept includes most leadership cases. Authority derived by the position of a particular in the organization and the strength of authority is superlative at the top level and decreases as we go down the corporate ranking. Therefore, it streams from top to bottom, giving authority to superior over the subordinate.

Although authority usually described as a human, there is also frequent mention of divine authority. An assured community power makes authority. This power might be materialistic or fictitious. The power remains because of the possible use of sanction. One cannot employ a remarkable post in an organization if he does not have any authority. It is the authority; that analyzes one position from that of another and vests the power to the anxious individual, to order his subordinates and obtain necessary compliance. Authority is the right to workout power, which can be formalized by a state and exercised by way of judges, appointed executives of government, or the ecclesiastical or priestly appointed representatives of a God or other deities. There are two forms of authority

  • Official Authority: The authority which allows the manager, power to command his subordinates, by his designation in the organization.
  • Personal Authority: It expresses the ability by which a person influences the behavior of other persons in an organization.

What is Responsibility?

Responsibility is the task assign by managers to subordinates. It means moral promise to do the work assigned. A person who performs some work has the responsibility to do it. It is the obligation to carry out the assigned task. It is the duty or task that a person is assigned to accomplish. “Responsibility is the commitment of an individual to carry out assigned activities to the best of his or her ability.”It is “the obligation to carry out duties and achieve goals related to a position.” The responsibility ends when the person has accomplished the assigned task. If a person is responsible for the assigned task, he will be committed to perform it effectively. A responsibility is something you’re required to do as an upstanding member of a community. It is the social force that binds you to the courses of action demanded by that force. A duty or commitment to satisfactorily perform or complete a task (assigned by someone, or created by one’s promise or circumstances) that one must fulfill, and which has a consequent penalty for failure. Responsibility is the contract of an individual, whether a director or any other employee of the organization to carry out the task or duty designate to him by the senior. The one who accepts the task retained responsibility for their performance, i.e., when an employee takes the responsibility of action, at the same time, he becomes responsible for its consequences too. There are two forms of responsibility

  • Operating Responsibility: Operating responsibility is the obligation of a person to perform the assigned tasks.
  • Ultimate Responsibility: Ultimate responsibility is the final obligation of the director who ensures that the task is done efficiently by the employees.

Key Differences

  1. Authority is the legal right of a superior to command his subordinates. Responsibility is the obligation of a subordinate to perform the work assigned to him by his superior.
  2. Authority can be authorized by a senior to his subordinate. The subordinate can not authorize responsibility.
  3. Authority flows downward from superior to a subordinate. Responsibility moves in the upward control from subordinate to superior.
  4. Authority is an entity or power to impose certain laws, rules, and expectations. Responsibility is an individual who is prone to follow and obey some specifically assigned rules to accomplish a task.
  5. An authoritative power always admitted with the freedom of taking decisions and managing necessary controls, for the benefits of an organization. In responsibility, the actions taken by a typically responsible party have a moral, ethical, or rational foundation.
  6. Authority stream downward, i.e., the intensity of authority is greatest at the top aligned and lowest at the low aligned. On the contrary, the responsibility stream upward, i.e., from bottom to top, the subordinate will be responsible for superior.
  7. The purpose of the authority is to make decisions and finish them — conversely, responsibility intention at executing duties assigned by the superior.


A point to bethink in associate with authority and responsibility is that while assigning assured responsibility to an employee, the obligatory amount of authority should also be converse on him so that he/she can be able to operate it. Hence, the charge of authority can only be effective when its contests with the assigned responsibility, i.e., if the authority authorized to a person is greater than the responsibility, it results in the misuse of authority. Besides, if the responsibility assigned is larger than the authority, then also the tasks will not be achieved properly due to the lack of necessary authority, thus making it ineffective. So, a balance should maintain between authority and responsibility.