The Concept of Authority

J.G. WILLIAMS (Senior Lecturer in Educational Administration at the Western Australian Institute of Technology. For some years he was a principal of technical schools and later a superintendent of technical educational in Western Australia. Mr. Williams holds the degrees of B.A. and B.Sc. of the University of Western Australia, the B.Ed. of the University of Queensland and the M.Ed. of the University of Alberta. During 1956–58 Mr. Williams visited Malaya as a Colombo Plan Expert and in 1966–67 he received the Alberta‐Australia Award.)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Publication date: 1 February 1968


Chester Barnard's insistence that authority rests on the consent of the subordinate is difficult to reconcile with the opposing reality that superiors do have the last word. Resolution of this dilemma is unlikely to bo found by prolonging discussions of the legitimation of authority, which may have reached a point of diminishing returns. Co‐existence of coercion and consent may be more satisfactorily explained in terms of Simon's concept of the subordinate's zone of acceptance of authority and the resulting distinction between two different sets of decisional premises, one at the boundary of this zone and the other inside the zone. An addition to Simon's theory of the concept and analysis of compliance proposed by Etzioni gives further insight into the interdependency of superior and subordinate in the authority situation.


WILLIAMS, J. (1968), "The Concept of Authority", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 152-161.

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Copyright © 1968, MCB UP Limited

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