Principles and practice of management revision question and answer

Principles and Practice of Management notes and Revision questions and answers

As organisations expand and the number of employees increase there is a need for delegation and

(a) Briefly explain what is meant by:
(i) Responsibility;
(ii) Authority;
(iii) Delegation.
(b) Briefly explain the difference between authority and responsibility.
(c) Explain how effective delegation can be achieved.


Responsibility, delegation and authority are fundamental management skills. Students are required to show an understanding of the problems and challenges associated with these concepts of management.

(a) (i) RESPONSIBILITY is the liability of a person to be called to account for his or her actions and results, and is therefore an obligation to do something.

(ii) AUTHORITY is the scope and amount of discretion given to a person to
make decisions virtue of his position held within the organisation. The authority and power structure of an organisation defines:
– the part each member of the organisation is expected to perform
– the relationship between the organisation’s members so that its efforts are effective
The source of authority may be top down (as in formal organisations) or bottom up (as in social organisations and politics).

(iii) DELEGATION is the giving to a subordinate the discretion to make decisions within a certain, defined sphere of influence. Therefore the superior must possess the authority to delegate.
The key element here is discretion and the level of authority within a specific sphere. Without delegation, formal organisations could not exist. An organisation chart may show the command structure of an organisation, but without authority, responsibility and delegation, a formal organisation cannot be effective. They are critical aspects.

(b) Unlike authority, responsibility cannot be delegated. There are however differing views on the extent to which this statement is true. There is a view that the idea of responsibility cannot be delegated is too simplistic. Any task contains an element of

responsibility. This underlines the doctrine of absolute responsibility; the superior is always ultimately accountable.

(c) Effective delegation can be achieved by:
– specifying expected performance levels and ensure that they are understood
– assigning agreed tasks to the subordinate
– allocating of appropriate and adequate resources
– ensuring that responsibility is exacted from the subordinate (i.e. responsibility is upwards)
– ensuring that the subordinate has the ability and experience to undertake the tasks maintaining frequent contact
– giving the subordinate written authority to do the job, which might be specific or general. This provides greater discretion.

Principles and Practice of Management notes and Revision

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