Authority and Responsibility
Another one of the principles of administration, authority and responsibility go together for everyone involved in administration.
Authority refers to the powers that a person holds in their organization. This includes the right to command and require obedience. Responsibility refers to the limits on a person’s powers in an organization. This includes the obligation to follow through on tasks assigned to them and those they have delegated to others.
One cannot have authority without responsibility.
Sources of Authority
- Legitimate Power Arises from the status quo and a cultural system of obligations of rights and duties and based on the acceptance of the people
- Coercive Power Derived from a person’s ability to instill fear among people and the expectation that punishment will be handed down to those who do not obey
- Reward Power Opposite to coercive power, reward power is based on the ability of some people to hand out rewards and prizes
- Expert Power Based on a person’s knowledge, skills, and expertise in certain fields. Since superiors possess these capabilities, subordinates desire and fulfill their direction.
- Referent Power Derived from the recognition of a person’s faith as a leader who is held in high esteem, admiration, and often imitation by the subordinate
- It is the basis of getting things done.
People who have authority has the right to influence the behavior of others in an organization with the performance of certain activities to meet defined objectives.
Authority is accepted because it holds some validity.
People in authority have the right to decide on organizational matters
- Subjectivity in Implementation
Authority is significantly influenced by subjective factors such as the personality of the manager and the environment in which the authority is being exercised.
In general, people in authority are granted the following:
- decision-making powers
- control over resources
- ability to delegate tasks
- the power to enforce rules and regulations
- the ability to hire, fire, or discipline employees
- the ability to sign legal documents
- the power to negotiate contracts
- the ability to make policy changes
As previously mentioned, responsibility, in the context of authority and responsibility, is the limitation on someone’s organizational powers.
Defined by itself, responsibility refers to one’s obligation to complete assigned tasks or perform assigned duties. Responsibility, unlike authority, cannot be delegated. One is accountable for ones tasks and duties. Additionally, it flows from top to bottom in any organization and it can be qualitative or quantitative in nature.
Forms of Responsibility
- Operating Responsibility Refers to an individual’s responsibility to carry out assigned tasks
- Ultimate Responsibility Refers to the obligation of the manager who ensures that the work is done efficiently by the members of the team
In general, people in authority hold the following responsibilities:
- accountability for the outcomes of decisions made
- oversight of the performance of subordinates
- compliance with laws and regulations
- use of resources
- maintaining the health and safety of employees and customers
- meeting financial targets and objectives
- maintaining the reputation and public image of the organization
- protecting confidential and sensitive information
Authority and Responsibility in the Police Organization
In police organizations, officers are vested with powers and obligations based on the existing laws of the land. They include the following:
- Maintaining Law and Order Police forces are granted to exercise this authority within their respective jurisdiction by enforcing laws, preventing crime, and ensuring public safety
- Making Arrests This is exercised upon individuals who violate the law
- Use of Force When necessary while carrying out duties, police officers may use both non-lethal and lethal force in certain situations
- Investigation Used on criminal activities to gather evidence and make referrals for prosecution
- Traffic Control Regulate traffic, investigate accidents and enforce traffic laws
- Public Safety Ensure the safety and security of the public by preventing and responding to criminal activity, natural disasters, and other emergencies
- Law Enforcement Enforce all national laws and local ordinances and ensure that violators are held accountable
- Community Relations Maintain positive relationships with the community, including promoting trust, transparency, and communication
- Training and Development Provide training and development opportunities for personnel to ensure that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out their duties effectively and professionally
- Fiscal Responsibility Manage agency budgets and ensure the efficient use of resources
- Accountability Hold personnel accountable for their actions and ensure that internal policies and procedures are followed
Police administration is only effective when law enforcement agencies and their personnel clearly understand their authorities and responsibilities. This ensures accountability, transparency, and effective decision-making, while also ensuring that law enforcement agencies operate within the bounds of the law and respect the rights of the public that they have sworn to serve and protect.