Formal and Real Authority in Organizations

JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Vol 105 No 1, February 1997

Posted: 5 Feb 1997

See all articles by Philippe Aghion

Philippe Aghion

College de France and London School of Economics and Political Science, Fellow; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jean Tirole

University of Toulouse 1 - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI); University of Toulouse 1 - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Mathématique et Quantitative (GREMAQ); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Abstract

This paper develops a theory of the allocation of formal and real authority within organizations. Real authority is determined by the structure of information, which in turn depends on the allocation of formal authority. An increase in an agent's real authority promotes initiative but results in a loss of control for the principal. The paper analyzes the allocation of formal authority as well as some determinants of the subordinates' real authority: overload, lenient rules, urgency of decision, reputation, performance measurement, and multiplicity of superiors. Finally, the amount of communication in an organization is shown to depend on the allocation of formal authority.

JEL Classification: D83, D23, D21

Suggested Citation

Aghion, Philippe and Tirole, Jean, Formal and Real Authority in Organizations. JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Vol 105 No 1, February 1997. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3743

Philippe Aghion

College de France and London School of Economics and Political Science, Fellow ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jean Tirole (Contact Author)

University of Toulouse 1 - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI) ( email )

Place Anatole France
21 Allees de Brienne
F-31042 Toulouse Cedex
France
+33 5 61 12 8642 (Phone)
+33 5 61 12 8637 (Fax)

University of Toulouse 1 - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Mathématique et Quantitative (GREMAQ) ( email )

Manufacture des Tabacs
21 Allees de Brienne
Toulouse, 31000
France

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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