Delegation of Authority | Principles & Types

Delegation of authority empowers subordinate to take action, decision, use resources or make commitments in relation to the duties assigned or delegated to him. Delegation simply means the process of transfer of authority from a superior to a subordinate.

The extent to which a manager will delegate authority to a subordinate according to Stoner (1978) depends  on the style of the organization, the specific situation involved, the interrelationship and personalities involved and the capabilities of the people in the organization.

Principles of Delegation of Authority

  • Parity of authority and responsibility principle: this principles state that authority must be equal to responsibility.
  • Absoluteness of accountability Principle: this principle states that when a superior delegates authority, the person to who duty is delegated is accountable to the superior.
  • Absoluteness of responsibility principle: this entails that superiors who delegate are still responsible for the activities of their subordinates to whom he had delegated authority.
  • Unity of command principle: this principle state that there must not be delegation of authority by more than one superior to one subordinate.
  • Scaler principles: this principle that that for delegation to be effective there must be no broken chain of command that links every organizational member with his or her superior. In other words, delegation should be by immediate superior to immediate subordinate.
  • Residual authority or responsibility principles: this principle state that residual authority like firing a subordinate should not be delegated.

Advantages of Delegation

  • It allows superior to seek and accept increased responsibilities.
  • It leads to better decision.
  • It speed up decision making
  • It helps to train and develop subordinates.
  • It improves subordinate self confidence and ability to take initiative.

Barriers to effective delegation of authority

Barriers to delegation authority could arise from the superior (manager) or from the subordinates. On the part of the managers, barriers to delegation could arise as result of:

  • Lack of confidence in the subordinate
  • Lack of self confidence on the part of the superior,
  • Fear of competition from the subordinate,
  • Desire to be involved in all the details of work,
  • Belief that if you want it done right, do it yourself,
  • Lack of experience on delegation of authority,
  • Belief that being busy is the same as being productive,

On the part of the subordinate, barriers to effective delegation of authority could arise as a result of:

  • Lack of trust on the manager,
  • Desire to avoid responsibility,
  • Preferring to be dependent on the boss
  • Lack of self confidence, aversion to risk taking, real lack of job skill,
  • Lack of understanding of work policies and procedures.

Types of Delegated Authority

  • Bye law which are made by local government on variety of subject like market, health, education and parks.
  • Rules made by public corporations, this may either be in full delegation of authority to act in the position of the departmental head to an acting head or delegation with respect to a certain subject matter. An example is assistant head in charge of a designated part of the work.
  •  Provisional orders which allow a local government to issue an order that allow it perform some specific functions assigned to it, pending the approval of parliament.
  • Special procedure order by the committee of the supreme court of a country.
  • Order in council made by the queen in council. In the exercise of her inherent legislative power, the Queen of England makes proclamations on given orders on such matters as regulation of commerce and trade, annexation of territory and mobilization of armed forces.

How to overcome the Barriers to effective delegation of authority

  • Superiors need to understand and accept the fact that their superiors can effectively contribute to decision making in their areas of specialization.
  • Superiors need to plan ahead before the actual delegation is made. In essence, delegation should not be done in a hurry.
  • Adequate incentives must be provided for delegated functions so that subordinates can willingly and enthusiastically take them up.
  • The actual and detached duties involved in the delegation must be made known and clear to the person who power is being delegated.
  • Confidence and self reliance need to be built into superior through training and development for them to accept and be able to discharge delegated duties.
  • Subordinates who powers are delegated to must be supplied with adequate resources and logistics to enable them carry out their delegated duties effectively.
  • Measures to monitor and control the use of delegated power need to be developed.