Petty authority

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Petty authority (or petty tyranny[1] or petty power) is authority exercised by a leader, usually one unchosen by the led, in a relatively limited or an intimate environment, such as that exercised by a fellow peer of a social group. It is a pejorative term, that carries with it a sense of authority that was gained, or is used, in an unfair or capricious manner.

Ashforth (1994) proposed that following six characteristics to define petty tyranny:[2][3]

  1. arbitrariness and self-aggrandizement
  2. belittling of subordinates
  3. lack of consideration for others
  4. a forcing style of conflict resolution
  5. discouragement of initiative
  6. non-contingent use of punishment


  1. ^ Petty tyranny in organizations , Ashforth, Blake, Human Relations, Vol. 47, No. 7, 755-778 (1994)
  2. ^ S Alexander Haslam (2004). Psychology in Organizations. SAGE. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-7619-4231-3. 
  3. ^ Ronald E. Rice; Stephen D. Cooper (2010). Organizations and Unusual Routines: A Systems Analysis of Dysfunctional Feedback Processes. Cambridge University Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-521-76864-1. 

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