Importance of Power and Authority in Public Administrations – Essay



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He distinguished between a manager’s official authority of position (formal authority) and his personal authority, which derives from knowledge and experience. Power on the other hand, is the ability to exert influence by which a manager directs the actions of others. The term ‘power’ connotes ability or capacity to do something or to get intended results.

A person may have influence on other’s behaviour even without any legal sanction. Power also accompanies the use of authority in the control, direction or utilisation of resources.

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Persons may derive authority from better knowledge, from access to vital information that they can dispense or withhold strategically, or from psychological forms of dominance and aggression directed towards others.

The relationship between authority and power should be clearly understood. Power re in forces authority and authority is one of the major sources of power. The other sources of power may not have appropriate authorisation or legitimation.

Some forms of power reside in groups. In every organisation, there are power centres Managers support one another in efforts to dominate or to win a struggle for power. Groups in power can apply sanctions or withhold approval.

Pfiffner and Sherwood have made distinction between power and authority by defining power as the capacity to secure dominance of one’s values or goals and authority as the right to command in hierarchical sense.

Sometimes, right and capacity are clearly separated and can be identified easily, but at times, two get intermingled. In fact, there is a continuum. At one end, right and capacity would be one, at the other end, both would be completely separable. Between these two extremes it is possible to find a number of variations.

Authority is a downward flowing concept whereas power flows in all directions. Authority can be delegated to the lower levels in the organisation. The more we go down the hierarchy, the lesser is the authority.

But it is not so in case of power which has been defined as the ability or capacity to influence the behaviour of others. If a worker is able to influence the behaviour of a departmental manager, it is implied that the worker has exercised power over the departmental manager.

Similarly, the departmental manager may be able to influence the behaviour of his superior, peers and subordinates. Thus, power flows in all directions.

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