December 4, 2011

Power and Politics - Review Notes

Power is an important dynamic (concept or variable) in organizational behavior.

Power - The Concept

Max Weber: "The probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance."

Pfeffer: "The potential ability to influence behavior, to change the course of events, to overcome resistance, and to get people to do things that they would not otherwise do."

The concept of power needs to be distinguished from authority and influence.

Authority is the right to direct others and ask them to do things which they would not otherwise do, but it is legitimate and is exercised in the working of organizations.

Influence is conceived as more broader and it is the ability to alter actions of other people in general ways by changing their satisfaction criteria and thus improve their performance. Authority is different from power because of its legitimacy and acceptance in an organizational context and leadership is broader than power and indicates a willingness on the part of the follower to follow in the absence of authority.

Luthans remarked that operational definition of power is still lacking.

The classifications of Power

Psychologists John French and Bertram Raven provided five categories

1. Reward power
2. Coercive power (punishment power)
3. Legitimate power
4. Referent power
5. Expert power

Contingent Explanations of Power

Power comes to people from being in the right place.

1. Power comes to people who have control over resources such as budgets, physical facilities and can allocate them with discretion.
2. Control over access to information can give power.
3. Formal authority and legitimate power comes from organizational positions.

Some of the propositions related to power in contingent explanations are:

1. The greater the professional orientation of group members, the greater relative strength referent power has in influencing them.
2. If the high ranking participants show less interest in managing a task, low ranking participants obtain more power.
3. The greater the target's dependency on agent, the more targets are manipulated against their will.
4. If people are uncertain about the appropriateness or correctness of their behavior, they allow the powerful people to manipulate them.

Pfeffer (1981) defined organizational politics as: “activities taken within organizations to acquire, develop, and use power and other resources to obtain one‟s preferred outcomes in a situation in which there is uncertainty or dis-sensus about choices”

Kurchner-Hawkins and Miller (2006) considered organizational politics as "an exercise of power and influence that primarily occurs outside of formal organizational processes and procedures.Political behaviors consist of influence tactics designed to further self and/or organizational interests, and its basic aim is to reconcile and effectively manage such potentially competing interests"

Politics in organization and its perception within organization

A synthesis of literature on organizational politics
Sami Ullah, Abu Rashid Jafri, Muhammed Khyber Bin Dost
Far East Journal of Psychology and Business
Vol 3, No 3, 2011

Fred Luthans, Organizational Behavior, 9th Edition, McGraw-Hill International,

Power Failure in Management Circuits - Rosabeth Moss Kanter

July - Management Knowledge Revision

One Year MBA Knowledge Revision Plan

January  - February  - March  - April  - May   -   June

July  - August     - September  - October  - November  - December

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