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Difference Between Responsibility and Authority

Responsibility vs Authority

Responsibility and authority are two things which go hand in hand. People who are in an authoritarian position have more responsibilities which come with the power of authority. Authority comes with special skills, greater knowledge, and vast experience, or perhaps due to age and the type of education a person has achieved during his lifetime. For example, the parents have the authority to make decisions for their children till they are not grown up enough to make the decisions themselves. The senior-most people in an organization have the authority to make decisions for the gain of the whole organization.

Responsibility, on the other hand, is another word for answerability. When one is responsible for some action or has to take the responsibility for the consequences of actions, taken either by themselves or by somebody else for whom they are responsible, this is answerability or responsibility. The consequences could be good or bad, but the accountability is taken by the person who is responsible. It has been seen that the people who are in authority are responsible for the combined actions or results of the whole organization. For example, if a company is doing well, the CEO is appreciated for his efforts as he is in the authority to take decisions as well as punish or reward anybody who is not working in the interests of the company. No matter who makes mistakes, a senior or a junior person in the company, the results that occur due to the actions are to be answered for by the senior-most people.

Similarly, the parents have the authority to command obedience from their children. No matter how they instill obedience or discipline in their children, their actions whether good or bad are the responsibility of the parents. The parents are responsible and have to take the blame or the credit for the children. Responsibility definitely involves doing certain duties and in a reasonable fashion. Responsibility involves people being reasonable and having the duty to communicate to others what needs to be done. It also involves the awareness of certain relationships one has with others.

Authority and responsibility might go hand in hand, but at times the people who are in power or authority choose to transfer the responsibility to others for a lot of things. People in authority have the power. Thus, they get away with shirking responsibility too. The person in authority might sometimes make blunders and not take responsibility for it. Thus, we can say that authority is basically power to make decisions, power to command others and rule others, but it does not necessarily mean that a person is a responsible person who is ready to be accountable for the people for whom he has authority over. Whereas a responsible person might not be the most authoritative person but be reasonable and skilled enough to be accountable.


Authority is the power to command, judge, enforce laws, exact obedience. Authority comes with special skills, greater knowledge, and vast experience, or perhaps due to age and the type of education a person has achieved during his lifetime; responsibility is the ability or duty to decide or act upon one’s own or somebody else’s decisions without supervision. Responsibility involves accountability.

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