Difference Between Ownership and Accountability (With Table)

We’re noticing a lot about just the gap between ownership and accountability nowadays. Managers and staff are unsure of what these terms represent or how to distinguish between them. According to the sources I referred to, most of them are certain about the differences that exist. However, these terminologies surely mean different in real-life application than their literal meanings that are printed in the English Dictionaries.

Hence, this article focuses on the differences and distinctions between these two terminologies in the segment of business and management as well as commerce and real-life applications.

Ownership vs Accountability

The main difference between ownership and accountability is that the term ‘ownership’ means the act of claiming and owning an asset or anything that is benefiting a business and running an organization. Ownership is the property of an owner and it can be passed on hierarchically as well as signed up with proper legal steps. Whereas, becoming answerable and responsible in a certain task or positioning is referred to as “accountability.”

The contractual relationship between an individual (can be an asset like an organization or a group) and an item is referred to as ownership. The item might be physical, like equipment, or totally legal, like a patent, trademark, or annuities; it can be mobile, like an animal, or stationary, like property. It’s hard to identify the least commonality of “ownership” since the objects of ownership and indeed the protected connections change by culture and vary according to legislation, tradition, and economic model, as well as the comparative social standing of individuals who enjoy its benefits.

Now, the next term i.e. Accountability; taking responsibility for the consequences and results as a manager or a group leader helps to set the stage for a workforce and this is called accountability.

Accountability at the managerial level helps companies run successfully. You may benefit from strengthening your accountability abilities and expertise if you lead a team or hold a managerial role. We explain accountability in the business, highlight the characteristics of fully accountable executives, and hence, it enhances the qualities and professionalism of a successful leader in the field of management may it be resources or human resources.

Comparison Table Ownership and Accountability

Parameters of Comparison




The contractual relationship between an individual and an item is referred to as ownership.

To be held accountable for your obligations and duties is to be held responsible and answerable to such actions.

Type of Term

It is a legal term.

It is not legal but a managerial terminology.


Asset and Owner.
Resources and Owner.

Leader and workers.
Manager and personnel.
Worker and his actions.


Legality and commerce based property and is independent of one’s personality.

Personality based property which highlights the individual’s responsibilities. 


Possession, proprietorship, freehold, etc.

Responsibility, answerability, obedience, etc.

What is Ownership?

Ownership is really the condition of becoming an owner, to claim legitimacy. Private ownership very certainly entails that one’s state or society will assist in excluding others from using or enjoying one’s possessions without one’s agreement, which may be revoked only for a fee.

Several rights typically referred to as titles, are involved in the ownership and can be divided and owned by different political parties. The method and mechanisms of owning property are very complicated: property may be acquired, transferred, and lost in a variety of ways. Ownership can be purchased with money, traded for other ownership, won in a bet, received as a gift, inherited, found, received as damages, earned by working or providing services, made, or homesteaded.

Purchasing it for cash, trading that for something more valuable, donating it as a gift, misfiling it, or getting taken away from one’s “ownership” by legal methods such as foreclosure, bankruptcy, possession, or seizing are all ways to move or lose property ownership. Ownership is conscience in the sense that the proprietor of any asset or item also owns the landlord’s economic advantages.

Managers cannot compel employees to take ownership. It’s internal, as opposed to external, such as responsibility. Workers can choose not to want to take ownership of their job, their agency’s goals, and their company’s vision.

What is Accountability?

To be held accountable for your obligations and duties is to be held responsible and answerable to such actions. Accountability necessitates responses and includes ramifications. Accountability is not a sense of ownership or duty; instead, it is a procedure that is generally carried out externally. Somebody holds you accountable, but if you feel like you own something, you’ll hold yourself responsible as well.

The condition of being accountable; someone who is in control of a certain project or institution; the individual is required to answer for everything that happens as a result of his or her obligation; is accountability too. We can see how distinct these two meanings are, although they are frequently misinterpreted. These words are often used in the workplace.

Now, to make this crystal clear, we must understand the aspects of accountability in the management segment of professionalism. The accountability system is used to achieve sustenance and stability amongst employees to comprehend what their supervisors anticipate from them, what greatness looks like in intervention, how they are performing against their targets. Employees are held accountable by their managers to achieve the desired objectives. They accomplish it via a series of acts that include:

  1. Bringing Clarity and harmonizing roles – assuring that the appropriate individuals are performing the appropriate tasks.
  2. Defining, expressing, and articulating expectations so that all personnel is aware of what constitutes exceptional work performance.
  3. Providing workers with timely, frank, and unambiguous feedback on their performance.

Main Differences Between Ownership and Accountability

  1. Ownership is stringently a property of an owner whereas accountability is an attribute of responsible personnel of a group or an organization.
  2. Ownership is claiming of an asset whereas accountability simply means being responsible for your actions.
  3. Ownership is not mandatory for an accountable person but for an owner, accountability is a must-have aspect in an organization.
  4. Ownership is a personality independent characteristic whereas accountability is a personality-based characteristic.
  5. Ownership includes legal procedures whereas accountability doesn’t require any legal prophases.


If a team and its manager lack effective communication skills, quality improvement initiatives will fall short. Offering growth potential at all levels of an organization demonstrates your commitment to your leaders and team members, who will become more invested in the organization as a result.

To grasp both, one is responsible in a situation to the extent that he or she has a sense of ownership over it. This is preferable since work will be completed more efficiently. If the emotion is simply accountability, the individual held accountable simply feels like a worker.


  1. https://www.definitions.net/definition/ownership
  2. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/accountability-definition-in-management