All of us have lived with the concept of authority since birth. First our parents were authority figures, then school teachers, principals and patrol boys and girls, later coaches, captains of athletic teams officers of social clubs and fraternal organization, campus police and finally employers (“bosses”) all remind us that we live in a society with distinct authority relationships.
Authority conditions the actions and behaviour of every management member in an organization and is the common cord tying together the various organisation units, thus making possible the very existence of the organisation and the effective working together of all personnel.
Organized executive action is impossible without authority. A superior is able directly to affect the behaviour of subordinate if he possesses authority with respect to that subordinate authority is commonly viewed as originally at the top of an organizational hierarchy and following downward therein through the process of delegation. When viewed in this way, it was called “formal authority”. In reality effective authority does not originate in this manner.
The concept “authority”, then, describes an interpersonal relationship in which one individual the subordinate accepts a decision made by another individual, the superior permitting that decision directly to affect his behaviour. Many of any writers have defined the term “authority”. Some definitions are as follows:
“Authority can thus be defined as a behaviouristic concept describing a relationship between subject and object in which the subject takes an acquiescent attitude to behaviour prescribed by the object on the basis of power either possessed by or delegated to the object”.
“Authority is the Character of a communication (order) in a formal organisation by virtue of which it is accepted by a contributor to or member of the organisation governing the action he contributes that is, as governing or determining what he does ‘ or is not to do so far as the organization is concerned”.
“Authority may be defined as the power to make decisions which guide the actions of another. It is a relationship between two individuals, on ‘superior’ the other ‘subordinate’. The superior frames the transmits decisions with the expectation that will be accepted by the subordinate. The subordinate expects such decisions and his conduct is determined by them.
An individual always has an opportunity, with respect to decision made by another directly to affect his behaviour to accept or reject that decision. If this line of analysis is to be followed it must be recognized that an individual may posse’s authority in a given situation without having formal authority. As according to Henry Fayol “Authority is the right to give orders and power to exact obedience”.