A cognitive model of authority in organizations and its effects on idea generation and idea validation performance

University essay from KTH/Industriell ekonomi och organisation (Inst.)

Abstract: An organization constitutes an environment of social relationships. The interdependence of the organization’s members and their nature as human beings create particular effects, which influence social interaction. One of these effects is the focus area of this master thesis – authority. Understanding the dynamics of authority is crucial for designing effective organizations. This thesis contributes to its analysis by performing a qualitative-heuristic literature analysis, which integrates central components of authority into a holistic, cognitive model. These components comprise the origins of authority in organizations, the channels that induce authority, individual characteristics that promote authority, and different categorizations of authority. The cognitive model facilitates the understanding of the process of authority in organizations and allows to deduce its effects on the behavior of organization members. In a second step, the findings on authority are related with two sub-processes of organizational innovation – idea generation and idea validation. Finally, this master thesis concludes six research propositions on the effect of authority on these processes. It argues that authority is likely to constrain idea generation performance, but might facilitate idea selection performance.

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