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Authority Definition & Meaning

Authority

  • After studying this article, you should be able to:
  • Define the meaning of the term "authority".
  • Tracking the sources of "authority" in the organization.
  • Distinguishes between line, employee, functional, and team authority.
Authority Definition & Meaning
Authority Definition & Meaning

Meaning of Authority

Authority is the right to make decisions, the right to direct the work of others, and the right to give orders.
In another words, Authority is the legitimate power of a anager to direct subordinates to take action within the scope of the manager's position.
Managerial authority is a manager's right to perform his/her assigned duties and direct subordinates' activities.

Sources of Authority

Authority drives from several different sources:

1 - Person's position or rank.
For example, the president has more authority, based on rank, than a vice-president has. A production manager and sales manager each have authority over their own activities based on their positions in the organization.

2 - Personal attributes, such as charisma, knowledge, and expertise.
In other words, many people are able to command authority because of one or more personal traits they have, such as intelligence or charisma.

Others are acknowledged experts in some other area, or have knowledge that requires others to command additional authority.

Types (Forms) of Authority

Three main types of authority can exist within an organization: line authority, staff authority, and functional authority.

1 - Line authority
Line authority gives a manager the right to direct the work of his or her employees and make many decisions without consulting others. Line managers are always in charge of essential activities such as sales, and they are authorized to issue orders to subordinates down the chain of command. (Line managers: the president, production manager, and sales manager)
Line Authority Chain of Command
Line Authority Chain of Command

2 - Staff authority
Staff authority supports line authority by advising, servicing, and assisting, but this type of authority is typically limited.

Staff managers assist line managers and cannot issue orders outside of their own departments.
Staff Authority
Staff Authority

3 - Functional authority
Functional authority: Functional authority allows a manager to issue orders down the chain of command within the limits of his or her authority.
Line-staff conflict occurs when line and staff managers disagree.

4 - Delegation
A concept related to authority is delegation. Delegation is the pushing down of authority from supervisor to subordinate; the supervisor is still responsible for getting the job done right. Empowerment means authorizing and enabling workers to do their jobs. Training, tools, and management support help them to solve their own problems and continuously improve production quality.

5 - Team authority
Team' authority is granted to committees or work teams involved in an organization's daily operations. Work teams are groups of operating employees empowered to plan and organize their own work and to perform that work with a minimum of supervision.

Team-Based structures organize separate functions into a group based on one overall objective.

Empowered employees create their own schedules, design their own processes, and held responsible for outcomes.
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