Meaning of Responsibility
A person has to perform his work. He is assigned work. Technically it is called responsibility. It means work or duty assigned to a person. A person in order to perform his duty is given some power i.e., authority. In fact authority and responsibility go hand in hand. A project manager has the authority to get the production completed.. He has also the responsibility of getting the production completed. The project manager cannot to the whole himself. As such he has to assign the work to his subordinates. He is responsible for the completion of the work through his subordinates. He has also the authority over his subordinates to get the work done. If he has no authority, he will not be able to get the work done. Hence, authority and responsibility go hand in hand.
Kinds of Responsibility
It implies the following kinds of responsibilities.
When a person is assigned a specific task or job, his responsibility is specific. As soon as the job is over the responsibility is also over. For example, we may appoint a management consultant to prepare a feasibility report about a project, his responsibility is specific, i.e., it is confined to that particular task i.e., project.
Ordinarily responsibility is general unless some limit is specified. For example responsibility of the Production Manager to the General Manager is of general type.
Responsibility may be limited to a particular task like specific responsibility. It may also be a continuing one. Generally, the responsibility is of continuing nature. Continuing our previous example of responsibility of the Production Manager towards the General Manager, it is of continuing nature. It shall come to an end when the superior or subordinate relationship is terminated or the organization itself is closed down
Whether Responsibility be Delegated?
It is true that authority can be delegated but it is more than true that responsibility cannot be. It is a cardinal principle of management that if a person is allowed to delegate responsibility it will almost be impossible to get the task completed. Again, it will be difficult, to fix responsibility in case the task is not completed. Of course, the person to whom authority is delegated, may take the help of people subordinate to him. In other words, he may in turn delegate his authority to his subordinates but he cannot delegate his responsibility. It means that if the subordinates fail to accomplish the task, his superior will hold him liable. He cannot pass the buck (responsibility) on to the shoulders of others. Hence it is remarked that authority can be delegated but responsibility not. For example, if the Board of Directors have delegated their authority to the production manager to produce a certain type of goods, if the people in the production department fail to accomplish the task, it is the production manager who will be held liable and not the people working in the department. Of course, the production manager can also hold his sub-ordinates liable but main responsibility is that of the Production Manager.
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