Specific Limits of Authority

Principle & Practice of Management

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Specific Limits of Authority

Besides the limitations of, non-acceptance the following are some other Authority specific limits:
1. Subordinate’s competency: A manager cannot decide and enforce an activity which is not within the capacity (either physically or mentally) of the subordinate. Therefore, enforcement of managerial decisions must be within the capacity of the subordinates to perform. [ Authority Specific Limits ]
2. Construction of accepted plans and policies: Authority must be within the limits of the enterprise’s accepted plans since it is not permissible to ignore or modify a policy in accordance with the manager’s personal whims.[ Authority Specific Limits ]
3. Social constraints: The use of managerial authority is also subject to many social limitations. The activities decided must, for example, conform to the group’s fundamental social beliefs, creeds, habits and codes to results in effective exercise of the authority.[ Authority Specific Limits ]
4. Legal limits: The State of Union legislation may place several restrictions on the exercise of authority by managers, such as the formation of trade unions and the right to collective bargaining. Again, the Indian Companies Act gives wide power to the shareholders which act as a limit of authority of the Board of Directors.[ Authority Specific Limits ]
Thus, restrictions are placed on the authority of all managers from the top to bottom, and each one has to work within such limits or restrictions. Established policies and procedures should not be deviated from at the whim of an individual even when he considers it in the interests of the company, as a whole organised behaviour dictates a certain amount of conformity.[ Authority Specific Limits ]

Authority Specific Limits

Distinction between Responsibility and Delegation

Whilst a manager can delegate his authority to his subordinates, responsibility cannot be so delegated. A manager is responsible for the performance of his duties even though he may delegate to a subordinate, authority to accomplish a service and the subordinate also in his turn may delegate a part of authority received by him. Therefore, delegation does not absolve a
manager of his own responsibilities to perform his duties. In short, no manager can shift responsibility to his subordinates. For example, the managing director of a company employed by the board of directors cannot avoid total responsibility for the conduct of the enterprise. Therefore, responsibility cannot be delegated in this sense. A manager cannot relieve himself of his responsibility although he can delegate authority and assign duties to his subordinates.

Distinction between Authority and Power

A person who has authority is described at times as having the power to secure compliance with commands and the power to do things. Although authority and power are closely related concepts, varying degrees of power are acquired in different ways by persons in an industrial organisation. Some exercise power by grasping opportunities for action without having the
appropriate authority. The exercise of power is also inherent when authority is used for controlling or directing the operation. Certain persons acquire power by reason of their greater knowledge and access to important information which they can transmit or withhold. Thus, in a business organisation whilst authority is a central element of the formal organisation, power reflects the political realities within the organisation.
All authority is subject to sharp restrictions. It is recognised by many experienced managers that authority is more effective if considered as potential power and not as an essential ingredient of performing the managerial job. To be most effective, it is generally necessary to use authority sparingly and selectively. Actually, the course of the real power of the vested authority is the hidden and implied threat of its use with a view to producing the desired behaviour. Hence, in the long-run, the application of enlightened leadership ability and genuine managerial skills will produce superior results, as the threats of the use of authority are subject to several limitations. In many cases, the continuous use of and reliance upon authority have not succeeded in achieving organisational effectiveness. Such excessive use failed to generate initiative, enthusiasm and desire in the subordinates to achieve the desired results.