Introduction to the notion
Delegation and accountability are two sides of the same coin. The accountability principle alone is not enough to develop a correct organization: we would be satisfied with naming some hierarchical responsibilities and would let the power fall into the hands of a few. Yet, human sciences have been gathering observations for decades and have shown that effective organizations are those made up of autonomous operational business units. The autonomy of decision and action is all the more necessary as the environment is uncertain and changing. The reactivity of the enterprise depends on it. Besides, the evolution of capitalism and globalization has led to industrial empires that are hard to govern. In this context, the distribution and definition of a coherent set of delegated responsibilities stands out as the only solution to keep the organization alive.
Both principles of accountability and delegation counterbalance each other. Applying them to a given activity guides its decomposition into sub-activities, taking various parameters like competence into account. Formally, to delegate consists in breaking down the objectives and allocating them to actors, roles and activities, in parallel to the organizational structure.