Journal Article | American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings | May 2009

Authority versus Persuasion

by Eric J. Van den Steen


This paper studies a manager's trade-off between using persuasion and using interpersonal authority to get an employee to 'do the right thing' from the manager's perspective (when the manager and employee 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 manager will rely more on persuasion when employee motivation is more important for the execution of the project, when the employee has strong intrinsic or extrinsic incentives, and, for a wide range of settings, when the manager is more confident about the right course of action.

Keywords: Employee Relationship Management; Managerial Roles; Projects; Motivation and Incentives; Power and Influence;


Van den Steen, Eric J. "Authority versus Persuasion." American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings 99, no. 2 (May 2009): 448–453.