Concepts of power, authority, legitimacy, responsibility and delegation.


Power, in the context of politics, can be defined as the ability to get others to do things even when they might not want to. Power can operate through persuasion, so that people cooperate willingly and freely, on the basis of reasons they accept (which may include incentives that are offered for cooperation); or through coercion – the use of threats, sanctions, and force.

States have power, in the end, because they can make laws. And laws are enforced by the police, again in the end, by the use of force. If you don‘t obey the law, at some point, you will be fined or jailed or worse. However, we want to be able to make a distinction between cases in which it is right that the state has power, and cases in which it is wrong or objectionable in some way. To make this distinction, we need the concepts of ‗authority‘ and ‗legitimacy‘.


Authority is a much more complex concept, and we need to make distinctions between several different ideas of authority.

A first sense of authority is theoretical authority or expertise. This is the sense in which a person can be ‗an authority‘, an expert, on a particular topic. We ask the advice of theoretical experts, as they can give us reasons for what to believe – for instance, whether whales are fish – but also for what to do – for example, an engineer knows how to build a bridge that won‘t collapse.

Our interest is in the second sense of authority, practical authority. This is the sense in which a person can be an ‗authority figure‘. An authority can get us to act in particular ways, because they have power. However, just having power is not enough to also having authority.

There are two senses of practical authority. In the descriptive sense of practical authority, a state has authority if it maintains public order and makes laws that are generally obeyed by its citizens. It has the power to make and impose laws successfully. Authority goes beyond power because it can secure public order, which depends in part, on people respecting the law. Contrast with this a state in which many people break the law, but the state still has a police force that punishes some of the law-breakers. In this case, in which citizens and the state are in conflict, the state no longer has authority.

In the normative sense, a state has practical authority if its authority in the descriptive sense is legitimate (‗normative‘ means relating to ‗norms‘, rules or reasons for conduct. In this case, it means that the practical authority is right, justified, supported by good reasons).


So in addition to whether a state has authority, in the sense that people obey its laws, we can ask whether it has legitimacy. The term legitimate comes from the Latin for lawful‘. In the most basic sense, a state is legitimate if it exists and operates according to the law. But this definition is too shallow: if a country has no laws about how a government can come to power, then no matter how the government came to power, it will be legitimate. Or again, if a government is elected lawfully, but then changes the laws to create a police state ruled by a dictatorship, the dictatorship will be legitimate. But this is not what we mean by a legitimate government.

If a government is legitimate, then in some way, the fact that it has power is right or justified. If it is right it has power, then we can argue that we ought to obey it. If it is objectionable that it has power, then we don‘t have an obligation to obey it.

We can object that this definition does not require that the people over which the government has authority willingly obey it. A state could have legitimate authority in this sense without those under its rule recognising its authority as legitimate. Second,

it does not claim that the people have a duty to obey the state. It only requires thatthe exercise of power is morally justified.

If we add these conditions, we can say that the state is legitimate if it can impose duties on the people under it. To impose a duty is not the same as forcing someone to do something. To impose a duty is to put them in a position where they have an obligation to do something, in this case, to obey the law.

The definition does not specify who the imposed duties are owed to. There are two possible answers: we owe it to the state to obey the law, or we owe it to our fellow citizens. Which is the better answer? If we consider the state of nature story, at the point at which we consent to obey the law, who do we agree this with? Not with the state, because the state doesn‘t exist yet. The state is created through our agreement.

So we agree it with other people. Our obligation to obey the law is therefore owed to other citizens. This reflects the idea that we are equal; our obligation is not to something that has power over us, but to other people, and it is all of us – not the state – that will benefit from the agreement.



Delegation is the act of assigning formal authority and responsibility to the subordin ate to carry out specific activity. The more tasks the manager delegate the more opportunity they have to seek higher responsibilities. Delegation cause employee to accept accountability and exercise judgment. Delegation not only helps to train them but al so improves their self confidence and willingness to take initiative. Delegation leads to better decision making as employee have clear view of the fact. Effective delegation n speeds up decision making process because delay is eliminated when employee is authorized to take necessary steps.

Prerequisite of delegation:

Willingness of manager –

Give employee freedom ,Let them choose methods that is different than his ,Give fre edom to make mistakes ,Mistakes are not viewed as excuse to stop delegation & Opportunity to offer training

Open communication between employee and manager –

Manager need to know the capabilities of employee?

,Manager need to encourage their ability and back them up

Manager‘s ability to analyze and understand the factors

Organizational goal

Capability of employee

?Task‘s requirements

Steps of delegation:

  1. Decide Which task can be delegated:

 Many items should be delegated

 First, minor decisions and recurring chores

 Demanding jobs and challenging tasks to capable one

  1. Decide who should get the assignment:

 Who have available time

 For whom it would be a useful developmental exercise

 Who have special skill

  1. Provide sufficient resource to carry out delegated tasks:

 Financial resources

 Staff resources

 Time resources

  1. Delegating the assignment:

 Provide all relevant information about task

 Specify expected result

 Cultivate a climate of open communication

  1. Be prepared to run interference if necessary:

 Resources may be insufficient

 Person may run up against resistance of others

  1. Establish a feedback system:

 Establish checkpoints and feedback system

 Design feedback system carefully

 Tighter the control less actual delegation will take place

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