Authority is the right to perform or command. It allows its holder to act in certain designated ways and to directly influence the actions of others through orders.

It also allows its holder to allocate the organization’s resources to achieve organizational objectives.

AUTHORITY ON THE JOB :

Barnard  defines authority as the character of communication by which an order is accepted by an individual as governing the actions that individual takes within the system.

Barnard maintains that authority will be accepted only under the following conditions:

  1. The individual can understand the order being communicated.
  2. The individual believes the order is consistent with the purpose of the organization.
  3. The individual sees the order as compatible with his or her personal interests.
  4. The individual is mentally and physically able to comply with the order.

The fewer of these 4 conditions that are present, the lower the probability that authority will be accepted and obedience be exacted.

Barnad offers some guidance on what managers can do to raise the odds that their commands will be accepted and obeyed. He maintains that more and more of a manager’s commands will be accepted over the long term if:

  1. The manager uses formal channels of communication and these are familiar to all organization members.                                                                            
  2. Each organization member has an assigned formal communication channel through which orders are received.                                                              
  3. The line of communication between manager and subordinate is as direct as possible.                                                                                                                 
  4. The complete chain of command is used to issue orders.                                     
  5. The manager possesses adequate communication skills.                                     
  6. The manager uses formal communication lines only for organizational business.                                                                                                                                
  7. A command is authenticated as coming from a manager.

TYPES OF AUTHORITY:

3 main types of authority can exist within an organization:

  1. Line Authority
  2. Staff Authority
  3. Functional Authority

Each type exists only to enable individuals to carry out the different types of responsibilities with which they have been charged.

LINE AUTHORITY:

The most fundamental authority within an organization, reflects existing superior-subordinate relationships. It consists of the right to make decisions and to give order concerning the production,sales or finance related behaviour of subordinates.

In general, line authority pertains to matters directly involving management system production, sales, finance etc., and as a result with the attainment of objectives.

People directly responsible for these areas within the organization are delegated line authority to assist them in performing their obligatory activities.

 

STAFF AUTHORITY:

Staff authority consists of the right to advise or assist those who possess line authority as well as other staff personnel.

Staff authority enables those responsible for improving the effectiveness of line personnel to perform their required tasks.

 

Line and Staff personnel must work together closely to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. To ensure that line and staff personnel do work together productively, management must make sure both groups understand the organizational mission, have specific objectives, and realize that they are partners in helping the organization reach its objectives.

Size is perhaps the most significant factor in determining whether or not an organization will have staff personnel. The larger the organization, the greater the need and  ability to employ staff personnel.

As an organization expands, it usually needs employees with expertise in diversified areas. Although small organizations may also require this kind of diverse expertise, they often find it more practical to hire part time consultants to provide it is as needed rather than to hire full time staff personnel, who may not always be kept busy.

 

LINE – STAFF RELATIONSHIPS :

e.g. A plant manager has line authority over each immediate subordinate, human resource manager, the production manager and the sales manager.

However, the human resource manager has staff authority in relation to the plant manger, meaning the human resource manager has staff authority in relation to the plant manager, meaning the human resource manager possesses the right to advise the plant manager on human resource matters.

Still final decisions concerning human resource matters are in the hands of the plant manager, the person holding the line authority.

ROLE OF STAFF PERSONNEL:

Harold Stieglitz has pinpointed 3 roles that staff personnel typically perform to assist line personnel:

  1.  The Advisory or Counseling Role :   In this role, staff personnel use their professional expertise to solve organizational problems. The staff personnel are, in effect, internal consultants whose relationship with line personnel is similar to that of a professional and a client.                  
  2. The Service Role : Staff personnel in this role provide services that can more efficiently and effectively be provided by a single centralized staff group than by many individuals scattered throughout the organization. This role can probably best be understood if staff personnel are viewed as suppliers and line personnel as customers.                
  3. The Control Role : Staff personnel help establish a mechanism for evaluating  the effectiveness of organizational plans.

The role of staff in any organization  should be specifically designed to best meet the needs of that organization.

CONFLICT IN LINE – STAFF RELATIONSHIP:

From the view point of line personnel, conflict is created  because staff personnel tend to 

  • Assume Line Authority
  • Do not give Sound Advice
  • Steal Credit for Success
  • Fail to Keep  line personnel  informed of their activities
  • Do not see the whole picture.

From the view point of Staff Personnel, conflict is created because line personnel do not make proper use of staff personnel, resist new ideas and refuse to give staff personnel enough authority to do their jobs.

Staff Personnel can often avert line-staff conflicts if they strive to emphasize the objectives of the organization as a whole, encourage and educate line personnel in the appropriate use of staff personnel, obtain any necessary skills they do not already possess, and deal intelligently with the resistance to change rather than view it as an immovable barrier.

Line personnel can do their part to minimize line staff conflict by sing staff personnel wherever possible, making proper use of the staff abilities, and keeping staff personnel appropriately informed.

 

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FUNCTIONAL AUTHORITY:

Functional authority consists of the right to give orders within a segment of the organization in which this right is normally non existent.

This authority is usually assigned to individuals to complement the line or staff authority they already possess.

Functional Authority generally covers only specific task areas and is operational only for designated amounts of time. It is given to individuals who, in order to meet responsibilities in their own areas, must be able to exercise some control over organization members in other areas.

 

 

 

 


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