On the first look, the terms boss and manager are defined clearly. It is written in the English dictionary what the term manager means and the only problem is how to fulfill the role in reality. According to the common definition, a boss is equal to the owner of a business. He has either founded the company by himself, or gets a salary for a manager position, in which he pretends, that it's his business. This strict definition is based on the legal term of ownership, which means, that in capitalist terms any store belongs to somebody who is in charge of running this business.

With this strict definition in the background it can be defined what the obligation of the boss are, and which part of the work can be delegated to other employees which are helping the manager to fulfill the daily business. For example, if the owner of a business has not a single store but he owns 20 of them, it is physical not possible that this person is in all the stores at the same time. He can only be in one of the stores, and in the other stores, he needs somebody as a replacement. This informal manager doesn't owns the store but he is running the daily business in accordance with the real owner.

Is it possible to define the social roles of boss, owner and manager precisely? Why is the manager sometimes different from the owner of a company?

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    I think you are starting with some premises that are not true, like "boss=owner of a business"... I can own a business, but I can hire someone to be the boss (say CEO) to do all the work, and that boss can then hire managers for each store, for example. In this case I may be the owner but probably I know few of what is currently happening on my stores. Another case is where a business is "owned" by several people, say the Investors, they may be the owners, but the boss may be someone that reports to them, etc... as you can see, this will depend on each specific company arrangement
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 17:35
  • @JoeStrazzere You're right, the question is a bit misleading because i'm confused about the terms. It's not clear for me what the intersection between the boss, manager and owner is. Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 18:06
  • @ManuelRodriguez I would picture it as a Venn diagram with Owner, Boss, and Manager as the axes. They can be separate, mixed, or even all-in-one (like, for example, my boss, who is also my direct manager and also the owner of the company)
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 18:10
  • I believe the down votes are due to the incorrect assumptions built into it, and the length of the question given that in the end it is a fairly simple question. If you edited it down to just a few lines without the speculation it may be better received
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 16:23
  • Its correct, that i have absolutely no idea how to ask questions in the workplace forum, so any help is appreciated. Perhaps the term "wrong assumption" is referencing to the point, that some sort of definition is available which can be given in the answer. Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 11:02

1 Answer 1


Is it possible to define the social roles of boss, owner and manager precisely? Why is the manager sometimes different from the owner of a company?

Picture it like this:

Venn diagram showing three main circles: "Boss", "Owner", and "Manager". These overlap into different combinations: "Boss ^ Manager", "Manager ^ Owner", "Boss ^ Owner", and "Boss ^ Manager ^ Owner".

Out there you can find any of those combinations.

In some cases, the roles may be completely separate. This is usually more common on big(ger) companies, where roles tend to be more separated.

In other cases the roles may be mixed. This is usually more common in smaller companies or startups, where there are fewer people so each individual has to wear more than one hat.

However, there is no one-size-fits-all for this, as it will depend on each specific company, the industry they are in, the company size, etc..

  • It's also worth noting that you can have multiple levels of Managers, particularly in large companies where there are low level managers in charge of small teams, middle managers in charge of departments, and general managers in charge of whole branches of the company (or stores in the case of retail/franchise companies)
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 16:22

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