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A structure or organization established for a certain purpose with the legitimacy to carry out said purpose. In a business context, certain organizations have authority to police, and, if necessary, punish certain business activities. For example, the SEC has authority to regulate any and all business transactions occurring in the United States. These organizations derive their authority from the ruling government and international conventions.


A government organization created to perform a certain function. A state or region, for example, may establish a public power authority to provide low-cost electricity to people living in a certain geographical area. The activities of an authority and its fundraising methods are ordinarily limited.


the capacity to give commands which are accepted as legitimate by others. In the modern ORGANIZATION the manager's authority to give instructions to subordinates is drawn primarily from his formal position as a manager, and the set of rights and obligations formally associated with the post, rather than from the manager's individual leadership qualities. However, both sources of authority can be important. Managers whose personal standing with their subordinates is low may find that their authority is not fully accepted. Equally, some managers claim that they are given insufficient powers to exercise their authority fully.

Modern analysis of authority relationships owes much to German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920). He discerned three forms of authority:

  1. traditional authority, where people obey those who occupy religious or monarchical positions;
  2. charismatic authority, where people obey those who have special inspirational personal qualities;
  3. rational-legal authority, where individuals obey laws or rules which have been devised as a result of the application of reason to achieve certain objectives.

In Weber's view the last is the distinctive form of authority in modern industrial societies, and is exemplified in the workings of the modern ORGANIZATION or BUREAUCRACY.

References in periodicals archive ?
The act also allows for the tracking of diseases and the sharing of confidential information with appropriate authorities.
At a minimum, if the Competent Authorities are unable to reach an agreement, this fact should be taken into account in assessing interest and penalties against the taxpayer.
It is therefore up to Church authorities to come to us and ask, "What is God saying to you?
By the beginning of 1997, some 90 percent of IHSS consumers were receiving their services from IP's; agency contractors' share of services had decreased from a 1987 high of 16 percent to less than 4 percent; Public Authorities had been established in Alameda, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties; Santa Clara County had adopted a Public Authority ordinance; and Public Authorities were under consideration in Contra Costa, Los Angeles, and Sacramento Counties.
Hence, it could not be accomplished without the cooperation of foreign authorities.
And it's not his love, nor his compassion, that has led the temple authorities to drag him before the pagan courts.
6662-3(b)(3) provides that the reasonable basis standard is met when a return position is reasonably based on one or more of the authorities set forth in Regs.
the weight of authorities depends on their persuasiveness and relevance as well as their source.
In addition, even where a taxpayer acts diligently to extend a foreign statute of limitations, it is not always possible to toll the statute long enough for the competent authorities to come to agreement.
competent authority may condition acceptance on the taxpayer's agreeing to waive future review by Appeals if the case is not resolved by the competent authorities.
In these cases, international intercompany and intracompany allocations are made by the IRS or by the revenue authorities of a U.