Authority: Meaning, Sources And Types Of Authority

Table Of Contents

1. Meaning Of Authority
2. Types Of Authority
3. Sources Of Authority

Meaning Of Authority

Authority is the formal or legal right given to someone or a group to make and enforce laws and policies which the citizens must obey. Authority means the justifiable right to make binding decisions and obtain compliance from the people.

Authority is based on acceptance of the right to rule, which is legitimate.

Types Of Authority

1. Traditional Authority: This is the type of authority a person exercises by being a traditional leader. E.g The traditional rulers in different communities and tribes in Nigeria like: Obi of onitsha, Emir of kano, Obong of calabar etc.

2. Charismatic Authority: This is an authority one has as a result of a person’s extra ordinary quality such as physical attraction which influence others to accept orders from the individual and obey him.

3. Local Authority: It is an authority backed by constitution of a state. It is exercised through the three organs of government. Example: Authority possessed by the president of a democratic state like Nigeria.

4. Delegated Authority: This type of authority is the one transferred on a subordinate to carryout certain function or responsibility on a specific area. Example: An administrative head given out duty to his or her subordinates like a principal delegating duties to his or her vice principal.

5. Technical Authority: This is the authority based on one’s technical know-how. Such a person’s authority is acceptable because he is recognised expert in the field concerned. Example: The inventors of various inventions or technocrates in various field like Engr. Philip Emegwali from Nigeria who is the world fastest computer operator. Bill Gate who invented computer software from U.S:A in 1981. Martin cooper from U.S.A in 1973 invented telephone. Proof Wole soyinka has technical authority in literary education/poetry.

6. Political Authority: It is the authority conferred on person’s holding political offices e.g President, Legislative, Special Advisers, Ministers etc.

7. Positional Authority: The position an individual holds determines this type of authority. Example: Authority possessed by a leader of an organisation, Pressure group, Civil society groups etc.

8. Coercive Authority: This is authority involving the use of force, the acceptance of which is done out of fear. Example: The military dictators.

Sources Of Authority

The sources of authority includes:

1. Custom and tradition

2. The constitution

3. Charisma: That is from special and unique qualities of an individual which makes hime to be accepted as a leader.

4. Consent Of The People: People may decide to invest in a certain person with authority.

Differences Between Power And Authority

1. Power is the capacity to effect another’s behaviour by the use of some forms of sanctions, But Authority is formal or legal right to make and enforce decision.

2. Power could be legitmate or illegitmate. E.g The military power. While Authority is based on acceptance and mostly legitmate.

3. Power cannot be delegated Whereas Authority can be delegated with legitmate side responsibility.

4. Power is based on heavy use of penalty. In Authority, The punishment is not severely serious as that of power.

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