Meaning of Authority | Characteristics, Types, and Importance

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In this session, we will discuss the meaning of authority, and characteristics of Authority, types of Authority, and the importance of Authority.

Meaning of Authority

Authority is the right to give orders. it is the power to make decisions. it is assigned to departments and positions. it is legitimate power. it is the right to influence. the action of subordinates to achieve goals. According to Henry Fayol, “the right to give orders and the power to exact the power to enforce obedience. it is the power to give order and make sure that these orders are obeyed.”

Simon, the authority may be defined as, “the power to make decisions which guide the actions of another. it is a relationship between two individuals one supervisor, subordinate. The superior frames and transmits decisions with the expectation that they will be accepted by the subordinate. The subordinate expects such decisions, and his conduct is determine by them.” (meaning of authority)

The concepts of power and authority are synonymous as the writers of management argue. While others contend that they are distinctly different. In such ways, the people are viewing power and authority in different ways.

Authority is based on the recognition of the lawfulness or legitimacy of the attempt to exert influence. that’s because authority is one type of power. But the power is define as, “the ability to exert influence that is the ability to change the behavior or attitudes of individuals or groups of people.”

The authority and the power distinguish by Koontz and Weihrich. it is the ability of a group of people or individuals to influence or induce the beliefs or actions of groups of people and other persons. Authority is the right to exercise discretion in making decisions affecting others. meaning of authority)

Sure, Is this correct, power is one types

French and Raven’s classic study in 1959 identified five bases or sources of power, an individual has over others.

These are given below.

  • Legitimate power
  • Coercive power
  • Reward power
  • Expert power
  • Referent power
Meaning of Authority | Characteristics, Types, and Importance

Legitimate power

Legitimation or Legitimization is the act of providing legitimacy. it normally attachment to values and norms within a given society of right obligations and duties. whereby a value is accepte by people as being legitimate. There are two types of business whereby legitimate power is use. that’s one is a private business and the second one is government. So private business authority includes the value attachment primarily from the social institution of private property. Also, the government includes, this authority attachment basically from the institution of representative government.

Coercive power

The second one is coercive power. This has come from a person’s ability to create fear in another individual. It is base on the subordinate’s expectation that punishments’ will be receive for not agreeing or complying with the supervisor’s beliefs and commands. (meaning of authority)

Reward power

The third one is reward power. It is the opposite of coercive power. It attachment from the ability of some persons to grant rewards. And the agents of purchasing have little position power, might be able to exercise considerable influence by their ability to expedite or delay a much-needed spare part. like that The professors of the university have considered the power of rewards. they can grant or withhold high grades. Pick of vacation time.

Expert power

And the second last one is expert power. This is the power of an educated person who has full knowledge, expertise, and skills in certain areas. Since the superiors possess this knowledge the subordinates desire to fulfill the wisher and their directions. The professors of the university and the lawyers of physicians may have considerable influence on others because both are respected for their special knowledge.

Referent power

And the last one is referent power. it is referred to the identification of an individual faith leader who is held in high esteem, admired, and often imitated by the subordinate. (meaning of authority).

In the session on the meaning of authority, we will also discuss the characteristics of authority.

The characteristics of authority can be explained by the following points.

  • Basis of getting things done
  • Legitimacy
  • Decision making
  • Subjectivity in implementation
Meaning of Authority | Characteristics, Types, and Importance

Basis of getting things done

In the organization, the authority provides the basis for getting things done. In the organization, authority refers to the right to affect the behavior of others with a view to performing certain activities to accomplish the defined objective.


Legitimacy is the right and acceptance of an authority, that is to say, it implies a right to secure performance from others. So right may be formal or legal or it may be supported by tradition accepted or custom standards of authenticity. The right of a manager to affect the behavior of his subordinates is given to him by virtue of his value or office in the organization. (meaning of authority)


Decision-making is a prerequisite of authority. In the organization, The manager gives orders to his subordinates to abstain and act from acting in a particular manner. Only when the manager has made decisions as regards the course of tasks to be performe by them.

Subjectivity in implementation

The last one is subjectivity in implementation. About it though authority has an element of objective. By subjective factors exercise is significantly influence, the personality of the organizational manager who is empowere to use it, as also of the organizational subordinates or group of subordinates with reference to whom it is to be exercise. (meaning of authority).

In the session on the meaning of authority, we will also discuss the types of authority.

The types of authority can be explained by the following points.
  • Legal Authority
  • Traditional or formal or top-down authority
  • Acceptance or Bottom-up authority
  • Charismatic authority
  • Competence or personal authority
Meaning of Authority | Characteristics, Types, and Importance

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