POWER AND POLITICS
After studying this chapter, students should be able to:
Contrast leadership and power.
Define the four bases of power.
Clarify what creates dependency in power relationships.
List seven power tactics and their contingencies.
Explain how sexual harassment is about the abuse of power.
Describe the importance of a political perspective.
List those individual and organizational factors that stimulate political behavior.
Identify seven techniques for managing the impression one makes on others.
Explain how defensive behaviors can protect an individual’s self-interest.
10. List the three questions that can help determine if a political action is ethical.
If you want to get things done in a group or organization, it helps to have power. As a manager who wants
to maximize your power, you will want to increase others’ dependence on you. You can, for instance, increase
your power in relation to your boss by developing knowledge or a skill that he needs and for which he perceives
no ready substitute, but power is a two-way street. You will not be alone in attempting to build your power bases.
Others, particularly employees and peers, will be seeking to make you dependent on them. The result is a
continual battle. While you seek to maximize others’ dependence on you, you will be seeking to minimize your
dependence on others, and, of course, others you work with will be trying to do the same.
Few employees relish being powerless in their job and organization. It hass been argued, for instance,
that when people in organizations are difficult, argumentative, and temperamental, it may be because they are in
positions of powerlessness, where the performance expectations placed on them exceed their resources and
There is evidence that people respond differently to the various power bases. Expert and referent power
are derived from an individual’s personal qualities. In contrast, coercion, reward, and legitimate power are
essentially organizationally derived. Since people are more likely to enthusiastically accept and commit to an
individual whom they admire or whose knowledge they respect (rather than someone who relies on his or her
position to reward or coerce them), the effective use of expert and referent power should lead to higher employee
performance, commitment, and satisfaction. Competence especially appears to offer wide appeal, and its use as
a power base results in high performance by group members. The message for managers seems to be: Develop
and use your expert power base!
The power of your boss may also play a role in determining your job satisfaction. “One of the reasons
many of us like to work for and with people who are powerful is that they are generally more pleasant, not
because it is their native disposition, but because the reputation and reality of being powerful permits them more
discretion and more ability to delegate to others.
The effective manager accepts the political nature of organizations. By assessing behavior in a political