The two faces of authority: A critique

Robert Spillane*, Lynda Spillane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In the management literature, authority is generally defined as, or confused with, power (legitimate or otherwise) on the one hand, or (less frequently) attributed to subordinate concession on the other. In short, authority is thought to have two faces. The aim of the present paper is to demonstrate the confusions surrounding the use of authority and to suggest that more attention should be directed to the important differences between authority, power and legitimacy. An analysis of managerial authority is discussed that argues for the crucial relationship, recognised by the ancients, between authority and rhetoric. Authority, it is argued, is not legitimate power but a source of power and is established by effective rhetoric.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Management and Organization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Authority
  • Legitimacy
  • Management
  • Power
  • Rhetoric


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