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17 Types of Authority

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Authority is a power or right to make decisions, direct, control and command. It is typically confined to a particular sphere, organization, situation and context. The following are common types of authority.

Bureaucratic Authority

Power to enforce a predefined set of rules, regulations and procedures.

Charismatic Authority

Influence gained by someone with a charismatic personality who is admired, respected or feared.

Coercive Authority

Power obtained by negative reinforcement such as the threat of force.

Delegated Authority

Temporary authority that is granted to achieve a particular task or function.

Expert Authority

The authority of experts in a particular field that is gained through recognition by other experts. For example, research citations are considered a mark of authority in a particular field.

Formal Authority

Authority based on legal status or position within an organization.

Governing Bodies

An organization or team that has authority over another organization or team. Often used as a system of checks and balances whereby a governance body provides oversight of a management or administrative hierarchy.

Individual Sovereignty

An individual's right to freedom. Many political questions come down to balancing state and individual sovereignty.

Informal Authority

The observation that social influence resembles authority as it creates the power to make decisions, direct and control.

Legal Authority

Authority that extends from the legal system of a sovereign state.

Petty Authority

The use of authority to justify unreasonable, unfriendly, cruel or arrogant behavior. In some cases, small levels of authority can dramatically change an individual's behavior in negative ways.

Political Authority

Decision making authority that is associated with elected government officials and the executive management team of organizations.

Popular Sovereignty

The right of a state to govern a nation by the consent of its people.

Positional Authority

Authority derived from an individual's position within a hierarchy.

Public Authority

An administrative body with a mandate to enforce a set of regulations or administer resources.


A state that recognizes no limits to its power.

Traditional Authority

Authority that derives from historical practices as opposed to a rational argument.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about authority.
Accountability Measures
Delegated Authority
Formal Authority
Informal Authority
Management Authority
Negative Selection
Petty Authority
Power Imbalance
Public Authority
Reporting Lines
Words For Authority
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