“But … That’s Not Part of My Job!”: Power and Illegitimate Task Requests


Hierarchy plays an important role in the workplace, especially during illegitimate supervisor-to-subordinate task requests or directives. Authority figures are often emboldened to request tasks beyond the job description due to the legitimate power imbued in the title “boss.” Unfortunately, with that power comes a trade-off of increased anger, increased feelings of illegitimacy, and decreased satisfaction when the task is considered by the subordinate as “illegitimate.” This case study identifies specific strategies that supervisors can employ to mitigate decreased satisfaction when they have to request an illegitimate task from their subordinates.

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

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