Difference between Policies and Rules

The difference between Policies and Rules are related with the process of taking decision by the top-level management. Policies are generally derived from the objectives of the company Whereas rules are very specific and these are just guiding what to be done, what is not.

Meaning of Policies:

Policies are the standing plans made at every level because managers at every level have to decide about the way of handling the situations. These are also known as a  particular blueprint and strategy of an enterprise. The course of action adopted by an organization is called policies. These plans or policies can be made and used again and again. For implementing the strategies manager always use these policies.


“Policies are general statements or understandings which guide managers thinking in decision making”.

-Koontz and O ‘Donnel

“Policies are a pattern of direction for the guidance of those who carry responsibilities for the management of the     activities of the enterprises.”


Meaning of Rules:

Rules are specific instructions and must be followed by every individual of the organization. These rules are spelled out to make the discipline in the organization and tells about what is wrong and what is right. In other words, we can say that rules are prescribed guides for action.

Features :

1.Rules are specific instructions or codes of conduct.

2. Tells about do’ and do not.

3. Simple to understand.

4. Compulsory for all.

5. Cannot be changed by any person.

For example, there can be a rule: No smoking in the organization, do not drink at work, etc. Employees of the organization cannot change these statements. Basically, these rules generally guide the employees to maintain the decorum and healthy environment of the organization. 

The Chart of difference between Policies and Rules

Points of differences

MeaningThese are meant for how to do the work.Rules tell about what to do or not to do.
NatureThese are general and less rigid.These are specific statements.
DescriptionThese describe what to do under different situations.It gives the instructions to do the right things and avoid bad things.
PurposeThe purpose of policies is for decision-making and thinking.The rule is a guide to the behavior of subordinates in the organizations.
ExampleThe policy of giving admission to students that they have to score more than 60%.No smoking at working place.


Thus, Policies are generally derived from the objectives of the company Whereas rules are very specific and these are just guiding what to be done, what is not. Both statements are important for the business units or organizations to run their functions/activities smoothly.

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