The key difference between department and division is their size. In general, a department is bigger than a division as a department may have divisions.
Large organizations or businesses are often divided into departments or divisions to make functions more organized and orderly. Thus, people tend to use these two words interchangeably.
What is a Department
In general, a department refers to a subdivision or a section inside a large organization dealing with a particular function and having a specific responsibility. This is why we have the departments of sales, marketing, finance, communications, and so on in a business. However, in some countries though, a department can also refer to a geographical unit. For example, France has 101 departments or administrative divisions.
The term department can also refer to principal branches within the government; for instance, we have Department of Justice and the Department of State to indicate different ministries inside the government. This is a long-standing practice that has been going on since independence. Even in the UK, there are ministerial departments such as the department of education and the department of transport.
What is a Division
We all know of the concept of division in math where a number has to be divided into parts. We also know of the practice of small units in military and navy being labeled as divisions. Making small units inside a large organization with independent decision-making and support from higher authorities provides for improved efficiency and productivity. This is why we find divisions inside a company to deal with specific responsibilities and functions. Division as a word connotes boundary or a partition. Thus, when we hear of divisions in an organization we immediately conceive of sections or parts that have been made to organize functioning.
What is the Difference Between Department and Division?
Both departments and divisions are concepts that deal with parts of sections, and it is a matter of the convention that either of the two words is used in a particular country or place. Thus, we have countries like France and Columbia where geographical units are referred to as departments whereas we also have countries like US and UK where ministries are referred to as departments such as Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and so on. Division is a word used more in military and navy, to refer to smaller units with specialized operations and responsibilities. However, it has today become a common word used in companies, to refer to sections that are called divisions. In general, a department is bigger than a division as a department may have divisions. For example, Department of Education may have several divisions.
Summary – Department vs Division
The two terms department can be used interchangeably in some cases. This is often in the case of referring to sections in various organizations. These two words also have individual meanings as explained above.