the vacation request

The Vacation Request

1. What should Harry have done?
The major conflict was caused by unclear lines of authority, fuelled by Tom’s defiance of established authority within the organization. Clearly, the purpose of organizing as a means of managing the human resources within the organization is to establish authority as well as to create a distinction between the roles and responsibilities of the members of the organization. In this case, the organization implements a horizontal type of organization wherein Tom and his colleagues answer to Luther, while on the other hand, Luther answers to Harry. This means that the concerns of Tom and his colleagues were meant to be handled by Luther, and Luther’s concerns by Harry.

            Since this is the case, what Tom did was go beyond the established lines of authority by overshadowing the authority of Luther as his boss. In addition, Harry made matters worse by giving in to the request of Tom which is clearly beyond his roles and responsibilities. The delegation of tasks or vertical division of labor is clear at this point, that the hierarchy establishes that Luther handles Tom and his colleagues, while Harry handles Luther only. Upon learning that Tom, one of Luther’s subordinates is requesting for re-schedule of his one-week vacation, he should have instructed Tom to ask Luther directly since Tom is Luther’s responsibility and not his. In this way, the conflict should have been avoided.

2. Who is at fault, Harry or Tom?

            Initially, Tom is at fault for violating the clear lines of authority. Tom knew that Luther is his boss and that he should have made the request to Luther directly, but he ignored this fact and went straight to Harry instead. What Tom did does not conform to the acceptance theory of authority established by Mary Parker Follett and Chester Barnard which suggests that the establishment of clear lines of authority is influenced by how subordinates acknowledge or distinguish authority. The conflict could have been initially avoided if Tom acknowledged or distinguished the flow of authority which is hierarchical in nature following the concept of the formal theory of authority. Harry only made matters worse by agreeing directly to Tom’s request which could have followed the flow of hierarchy again by passing through Luther first before Harry.

3. What if Luther confronts Harry with the problem and he simply brushes it off by saying he is really only helping?

            If Luther confronts Harry and Harry ignores the problem by saying that he only intended to help, Luther should further assert his position by stating how the situation creates a problem which overlooks clear lines of authority within the workplace. Luther should initiate a diplomatic conversation with Harry in order to resolve the issue since it has happened many times in the past, and since Harry is Luther’s boss, Luther should be able to relate his problem to Harry in order to determine ways on how to resolve the issue.

            Talking about the issue might just help Luther and Harry re-establish clear lines of authority by redefining the roles and responsibilities of each. In this way, Harry will be able to understand what he should have done in the first place and to adhere to the acceptance theory of authority wherein he distances himself from the specific roles and responsibilities that Luther is tasked to accomplish. On the other hand, Luther will be able to realize how it is his responsibility to exhibit authority, power, and responsibility in order for his subordinates to clearly distinguish the lines of authority within the organization avoiding chaos, conflicts, or confusion in the future.


Rue, L. W. & Byars, L. L. (2008). Management Skills and Applications 12E.       McGraw-Hill.


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