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Delegation in organizations is the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities, such as starting on proper tires during a wet race. It is one of the core concepts of management leadership.


  • Delegation is the dynamics of management; it is the process a manager follows in dividing the work assigned to him so that he performs that part which only he, because of his unique organizational placement, can perform effectively, and so that he can get others to help him with what remains. How can he best share his burden? First, he must entrust to others the performance of part of the work he would otherwise have to do himself; secondly, he must provide a means of checking up on the work that is done for him to ensure that it is done as he wishes.
If he wants to get others to help him, the manager must first divide his work. If he requires his subordinate to perform the work as he would do it himself, the manager must entrust him with part of the rights and powers he otherwise would have to exercise himself to get that work done. If the subordinate needs to spend money, hire people, use materials or equipment, the manager must permit him to do so or the subordinate cannot perform the work.
  • DELEGATION, n. In American politics, an article of merchandise that comes in sets.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • Delegation means that he will concern himself with the results of their activities and not with the details of their day-to-day performance. This requires a degree of confidence in them which enables him to accept certain risks. Unless he takes these risks there will be no delegation.
    • Douglas McGregor (1960.2006), The Human Side of Enterprise, Annotated Edition p. 220
  • If a man divides the whole of his work into two branches and delegates his responsibility, freely and properly, to two experienced heads of branches he will not have enough to do. The occasions when they would have to refer to him would be too few to keep him fully occupied. If he delegates to three heads he will be kept fairly busy whilst six heads of branches will give most bosses a ten hours' day. Those data are the results of centuries of the experiences of soldiers.
  • Failure to delegate causes managers to be crushed and fail under the weight of accumulated duties that they do not know and have not learned to delegate.
    • James D. Mooney (1931), cited in: Guy Kimberley Hutt (1990), Organizational decentralization and delegation in large New York. p. 1

See also

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