Authority Versus Persuasion

22 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2009

See all articles by Eric Van den Steen

Eric Van den Steen

Harvard Business School - Strategy Unit

Date Written: January 7, 2009

Abstract

This paper studies a principal's trade-off between using persuasion versus using interpersonal authority to get the agent to 'do the right thing' from the principal's perspective (when the principal and agent openly disagree on the right course of action). It shows that persuasion and authority are complements at low levels of effectiveness but substitutes at high levels. Furthermore, the principal will rely more on persuasion when agent motivation is more important for the execution of the project, when the agent has strong intrinsic or extrinsic incentives, and, for a wide range of settings, when the principal is more confident about the right course of action.

Suggested Citation

van den Steen, Eric, Authority Versus Persuasion (January 7, 2009). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 09-085. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1333198 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1333198

Eric Van den Steen (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Strategy Unit ( email )

Harvard Business School
Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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