Should obedience to authority always be rewarded?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my view, obedience to authority should not always be rewarded in the context of a business.  This is true for two reasons.  First, rewarding obedience makes it more likely that employees will blindly obey their bosses and might hurt the company by doing so.  Second, rewarding obedience will make it less likely that employees will take initiative.

Bosses, like everyone else, can make mistakes.  They can make errors in judgment and then can also act out of improper motives.  If employees are given the incentive to blindly obey their bosses, they might follow their bosses even when the bosses are in the wrong.  The gravest example of this would be when a boss gives an employee illegal or unethical orders.  For example, imagine that a boss does not like having women in his part of the company and he orders his subordinates to treat their female workers unfairly so as to force them to leave their jobs.  If a business stresses the importance of obedience, these subordinates are more likely to take this action which is illegal and could end up hurting the company in the long term.

Many business leaders say that a good employee is one who takes the initiative.  A good employee does not simply wait to be told what to do.  Instead, good employees are always trying to improve their own performance and that of their work unit.  They will act on their own initiative when they see things that need to be done or which need to be done better.  A company that stresses obedience will tend to discourage workers from doing this.  Instead of taking the initiative, they will simply wait to be told what to do because they will be rewarded for being obedient.  This will make it less likely that they will help the firm as much as they could.

If a firm rewards obedience at all times, it is more likely to create a corporate culture in which employees do not take initiative and in which they are willing to blindly follow misguided or even malicious orders from their bosses.

rachellopez | Student

Sometimes, just doing what the boss says is the best option. However, if everyone was rewarded for just doing what the boss says they might not be helping the company; they may actually hurt it. Even if someone is the boss, they aren't the only one with good ideas and they aren't always right about what the company should do. If people were rewarded for obeying and keeping quiet, some ideas may go unheard that could really benefit everyone. 

user396107 | Student

In my opinion, obedience to authority should be rewarded depending on the situation in a workplace. For example, if the senior manager was delegating tasks and allocating work to subordinates, then subordinates should generally follow this, as this will lead to efficiency and greater teamwork on the behalf of everyone. However, in situations such as when the senior manager has proposed an idea and a subordinate has found there is a problem with it or has an even better or commercially sound and profitable idea, they should have the courage to voice their view for discussion and debate and not be deterred from doing so because of the need to obey their superiors.