The superior has certain objectives which he is charged with achieving. It is the portion of these objectives which he delegates to his subordinates. The superior also has the authority to get the job done, and he passes on part of this authority to the subordinate.
Responsibility arises from the superior-subordinate relationship. A superior is one who has effective authority over another and a subordinate is one who is subject to the effective
authority of another.
The authority flows from the superior to a subordinate when duties are assigned, and responsibility is the obligation simultaneously exacted from the subordinate for the accomplishment of the duties.
The subordinate manager, in turn, can delegate the authority and duty to his subordinate, but he can not delegate responsibility of accomplishing that duty. He retains the ‘ultimate’ responsibility, while his subordinate is charged with the immediate responsibility. Thus a manager has the responsibility of accomplishing the total activities assigned to him by his superior.
In this way, the chief executive is, responsible for the entire activities of the organisation to the board of directors, though he does not perform all the activities himself. This raises the question of how much supervision should be on the responsibility delegated.
Actually, it depends upon the situation at hand, the subject being delegated and the character and competence of the delegator and the delegate effective delegation depends partly on the willingness of the parties involved.
Some superiors are afraid to delegate at all, where as some subordinates shy away from accepting delegation. But as they mature with time and gain experience, there is more delegation than in the initial stages.
From the above discussion it is clear that responsibility cannot be delegated. Keith Denis has observed, “Responsibility operates somewhat like the table of the magic-picture in which the water level always remains the same, no matter how much water is poured out.”