Short Essay on Responsibility and Delegation in Administration

A superior is one who has effective authority over another and a subordinate is one who, is subject to this authority of superior. The authority flows from the superior to subordinate when duties are assigned to him and at the same time authority is given to him for the discharge of duties.

The subordinate manager cannot carry all the duties and tasks and, therefore delegates to his subordinate.

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However, the relationship between the first subordinate and his superior is such that he will be held responsible, for performance of total tasks assigned to him and not only the task actually carried out by him. In this case, his actual tasks will be total tasks assigned minus tasks assigned by him to his subordinate.

Thus in practice, responsibility will be divided into two parts: the ultimate responsibility for the total task originally assigned, and the operating responsibility for the tasks kept by a manager. The manager retains ultimate responsibility for getting the job done, but emphasis is now getting the job done through someone else namely his subordinate.

If the subordinate fails to perform the job, the manager is held responsible for this failure also because of his ultimate responsibility. Thus ultimate responsibility can not be delegated. Keith Davis has stated that responsibility operates somewhat like the fable of the magic-pitcher in-which the water level always remained the same no matter how much water poured out.”