Legal Rational Authority


Max Weber who is one of the influential sociologists in the world proposed the notion of authority which entails three types.  Moreover, the sociologist pioneered the route towards comprehending how the administration is legitimated like the belief system. According to Weber, norms and authority represent the polar fundamentals of public organization (Poor 2014, pp. 9-57). Furthermore, Weber wanted to evaluate why men wanted to be leaders while other people were willing and expected to listen to those in authority positions. The sociologist believed that it is compulsory to understand and know where three authorities originated from for the sake of establishing social changes. The three forms of authority that Max Weber proposed include the traditional, legal rational and charismatic authority (Koshul, 2014). The paper explores on the rational legal authority by discussing it differences with other types of power as well as the way it operates.

Legal Rational Authority

The legal rational authority is regarded as the form of headship that sticks to the ideas that are explained by normative laws and individuals who are picked for leadership position have the power to command their subjects under the defined rules (Gabbay et al., 2011). Moreover, the type of leadership is greatly linked with bureaucracy, legal legitimacy, and legal rationality. The majority of the current nations of the 21st and 20th century are the examples of rational legal authorities. Moreover, the type of authority is frequently established in modern city administrations, voluntary associations as well as public and personal corporations.  According to Weber, the development of current state of leadership is similar to the modern bureaucratic and officialdom organizations (Jones et al. 2015, pp.52-100).

Obedience of individuals to the rules and orders made by people in the leadership positions is not founded on the capability of the principal but the competence and legitimacy of the laws and procedures given to the leaders. The contemporary community depends on the legal rational leadership since the complexities of its issues need the emergence of civil service that embodies order (Jones et al. 2015, pp.52-100). The current communities rely on the rationalized government regarding discovering a common basis where consensus might be attained. However, consensus founded on agreement frequently lack flexibility thus embodying dominance of the bureaucratic attitude of which administrations is sometimes accused. In line with the legal rational leadership, Weber recognized legal order as the system where laws are obeyed and enacted as legitimate since they are in line with various laws on how they can be enforced as well as the way to be followed (Venezia, 2015). The rules are applied by the administration that dominates their enactment while having the legitimate utilization of physical force.

Like any other type of authority, legal rational leadership exhibits problem or weakness. Initially, the authority manifests the strength of bureaucracy than the individual. Moreover, during the exercise of control, the government power, rules and laws that include protocols and duties have the control over people.  Even if systematization and order are desirable, the bureaucracy is not able to address the issues and concerns of every citizen according to the suggestion of the current development of nation-states (Brooks, 2014). People are supposed to follow the orders of their leaders hence the rules and laws are what governs making it difficult to introduce new means that can meet the needs of all people. Protocol and procedures tend to delay the implementation of critical policies that would have a positive impact on the society.

Besides, the legal rational authority as manifested in the modern world and survives where the political public has three components. The initial element includes the legal and administrative order that has been established and can be adjusted by legislation as well as determining its duties (Banaker and Travers, 2015). Secondly, there must be the existence of a binding power over residents and activities in its judgments. The third element is the possession of the right to the lawful use of physical power during the enforcement of rules and jurisdictions.  Furthermore, the nowadays governments that are founded on legal rational leadership are thought to have emerged from the feudal and patrimonial struggle for authority similarly to the western civilization (Joerges 2014, pp.248–268). However, the prerequisites for the current Western nations are the monopoly by the federal authority means of control and administration, legislative authority and organization of officialdom.

Differences with Other Forms of Authorities

There are differences between the three forms of leadership. Initially, the legal rational leadership obtains its powers from the systems of legality and bureaucracy. Different types of administration transfer power in a dissimilar manner. In the legal rational leadership, the power is transferred to the next header in line with the set of rules while the traditional authority transfers power based on the family line (Joerges 2014, pp.248–268). The charismatic government points a person who has specific characteristics that make a principal extraordinary.  Secondly, the traditional headship indicates the existence of dominant qualities. Different to the charismatic and traditional authorities, the legal rational power operates on the rules and laws that are clearly defined.  Subjects of the legal rational leadership tend to obey the law since they believe that the leader is governing depending on the set norms (Gottzén 2014, pp.59-74).

Furthermore, the determination of the leader in the traditional authority via the routine or custom while in charismatic headship is by the dynamic personality. On the other hand, a person to lead the government or organization in the legal rational authority is established lawfully by the authority.  A set of rules defines when a person reign has ended and the correct procedure to pass powers to another leader (Koshul, 2014). Also, the charismatic authority is ruled with the used of extraordinary characteristics and exceptional power while the traditional authority is via the hereditary or acquired qualities. Different to the charismatic and traditional authority, the legal rational authority is ruled with the use of virtue of rationally created decrees, norms and various regulations and rules. Depending on legitimization, the charismatic headship is based on the success and victories to the society while the traditional leadership is created via the customs (Poor 2014, pp. 9-57). However, legitimization in the legal rational is the usual beliefs that the official correctness of the established laws and those enforce them are regarded as a genuine authority.

Likewise, the loyalty of the traditional authority is founded on the traditional allegiances while the charismatic headship is achieved through devotion, personal and interpersonal allegiance.  On the other hand, the loyalty the legal rational authority loyalty is created by the rules or authorities that control and manages the policies and people. Moreover, people do everything to pay loyalty to the rules by following the orders given by those in leadership positions (Kalberg, 2011). Another different of legal rational headship with other types of authority can be identified in the cohesion which is established by abiding by the regulations and rules while the traditional type is the feel of the similar rationale and charismatic is emotionally volatile and unstable. Moreover, the legal rational authority is the leadership that comprises of the rule but not rulers while the traditional and charismatic authorities entail a leadership created by forms of community conduct, followers, and rulers (Shalin, 2011).

How it Operates

The legal rational authority is greatly tied with bureaucracy, legal legality, and legal rationality. Furthermore, the legal rational authority entails the initial stage as the establishment of the lawful rules and regulations that would govern the society or organization. Secondly, the authority ensures that leaders are linked with their subjects according to the created laws as well as establishing their duties and responsibilities. Thirdly, the legal rational leadership has the power to enforce the laws by ensuring that all citizens or people in the organization or country observe the laws accordingly (Hearn, 2012). Established laws stipulate the role of all people involved in the management and leadership as well as the contribution of the large community to the administration.

People who go against the laws are described as criminal hence subjected to justices. Citizens are expected to follow rules as a sign of loyalty cohesion is established by following common rules thus making people live in harmony without frictions. Also, the rules are used to settle disputes that exist among people in the organization or nation.  Besides, the authority of the legal rational leaders is obtained from the societal constructs, compliance and legal legitimacy created by bureaucratic and lawful norms systems (Shalin, 2011). Subjects and citizens in the legal rational headship accept the power since it is harmonious with the created legal and history doctrines.  However, discontent and uprisings take place when people perceive administration action as incompatible with the recognized lawful citizen-established and legal doctrine association.


Bureaucracy is the regulations and structure that are put into place to control actions commonly used in large government and organization operations.  Also, the bureaucracy is the social system or administration that depends on the set procedures and rules, hierarchical structure and division of duties in the implementation of controls about the social system, government or organization (Jones et al. 2015, pp.52-100). In the legal rational authority, bureaucracy contributes the most balanced and efficient way in which a person can organize people activities. Moreover, the systematic progressions and planned hierarchies are necessary in maintaining order, eliminating favoritism and maximizing efficiency (Gottzén 2014, pp.59-74). However, the unfettered bureaucracy is a peril to personal freedom since the increase in bureaucratization of humans might trap persons in the impersonal iron cage of law founded rational management.

Likewise, bureaucracy is characterized by officials who require expert training, hierarchical organization, delineated lines of power in a constant area of action, rules enacted by neutral official and actions taken based on the written rules (Gabbay et al., 2011).  Moreover, bureaucracy operates based on the particular competencies of several offices that are specified in many laws, administrative regulations and laws.  Additionally, in the bureaucracy, there is division of labor, continuous and regular execution of allocated tasks as well as the creation of the chain of command.

Legal Legitimacy

Legitimacy is regarded as the acceptance and authority mostly governing regime or law.  Legal legitimacy is considered as the main condition for the administration which without it the government would collapse and suffer legislative deadlocks.  According to the legal rational authority, societies behave cyclically in managing themselves with dissimilar forms of governmental legitimacy (Joerges 2014, pp. 248–268). However, democracy is a must or creating legitimacy which is a condition established by customs, codified laws, and traditional principles. The legitimate form that functions under the legal rational leadership is a democracy which derives from a famous perception that the selected administration follows the democratic principles in the ruling (Joerges 2014, pp. 248–268). The legal rational authority operates under legitimacy which is the belief that agents and laws are the correct holders of the government power.

Current Case Study

The way legal rational authority operates is demonstrated in the modern democratic states. For instance, in the United States, the leadership powers are passed on via elections. People follow particular rules when doing elections that ensure that they are free and fair. Only eligible voters are allowed to vote and there is no poll tax, since it could segregate those who are not able to pay (Banaker and Travers, 2015). After the president is elected, he or she has the power to rule and command the forces in line with the rules and regulations. Moreover, all American people stay loyal to the president until when his or her reign term is over. The American president has the mandate to ensure that all citizens are safe and rule according to the constitution.


Legal-rational headship is the type of authority that recognizes the ideas that are defined by set laws and people who are selected for the power position have the ability to command their citizens under the governing rules. People obey rules and orders that are given by the ruling persons due to the competence and legitimacy of the procedures and rules given by headers. The legal rational government operates under the legal legitimacy and bureaucracy. Most of the current regulations are made of legal rational authority that is supported by democracy and the belief that those in powers rule according to the set protocol and chain of command. Additionally, the legal rational authority works according to the set procedures, protocol, and rules that are followed by citizens and the government have the right to use the physical force in enforcing the law.

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