The "acceptance theory" is a philosophy which argues that "authority does not depend as much on 'persons of authority' who give orders as on the willingness of those who receive the orders to comply with them (http://www.iienet2.org/Details.aspx?id=2182)." This idea combines both the traditional approach to management of a "top- down" structure where subordinates are to comply with the decisions of management. Yet, it is also embracing a more modern understanding of management, where this compliance is not blind and done without some level of questioning. If one were to buy the "acceptance theory" of management, then one also has to accept that subordinates do possess some level of intrinsic power that requires explanation, articulation, and clear definition of company policies and initiatives. In the "acceptance theory" model of management, the company's superiors must have a rapport with their subordinates so that this communication is evident, for their understanding and willingness to accept decisions, comply with policy, and fulfill management vision is essential. To accept "acceptance theory," management must "accept" the premise that their workers have to be "accepted" as beings with their own sense of autonomy, freedom, and reasonability, as opposed to drones who will blindly follow where the company leads.
Acceptance Theory was propounded by the chestar barnard. This theory states that authority is the power that is accepted by others. Formal authority is reduced to normal authority if it is not accepted by the subordinates. The subordinates accept the authority if the advantages to be derived by its acceptance exceed the disadvantages resulting from its refusal. The subordinates give obedience to the managers. According to Barnard, four factors will affect the willingness of employees to accept authority.
- The employees must understand the communication.
- The employees accept the communication as being consistent with the organisations purposes.
- The employees feel that their actions will be consistent with the needs and the desires of the other employees.
- The employees feel that they are mentally and physically able to carry out the order.
According to acceptance theory, authority flows from bottom to top. A manager has authority if he gets obedience from the subordinates. Subordinates obey the manager because of the fear of losing financial rewards. This theory emphasises sanctions that a manager can use and overlooks the influence of social institutions like trade unions.