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Unformatted text preview: Power & Politics
Dr Retha Wiesner Power
Power A capacity that A has to
influence the behaviour of B so
that B does things she or he
would not otherwise do. Dependency
B's relationship to
A when A possesses
something that B
Power Capacity to influence the behavior of another so
that the other does things they would not
Assumes Potential whether used or not
Dependency of other on one with power
Discretion of other over own behavior Does not assume Goal compatibility
Downward influence alone Differences between Leadership and Power
Differences Power does not require goal compatibility, merely dependence.
Leadership, on the other hand, requires some congruence
between the goals of the leader and those being led. Goal compatibility The direction of influence: Leadership focuses on the downward influence on one’s
Leadership research, for the most part, emphasises style.
Power does not minimise the importance of lateral and upward
The research on power has tended to encompass a broader
area and focus on tactics for gaining compliance. Sources and Bases of Power
Sources Where do I get power? Sources: Position
Opportunity to control
information What tools do I
influence others? Bases: Coercion
Knowledge Bases of Power (a) Formal Power
1. Coercive Power:
1. Coercive The coercive power base is being dependent on fear.
It rests on the application, or the threat of application, of
physical sanctions such as the infliction of pain, the
generation of frustration through restriction of movement, or
the controlling by force of basic physiological or safety
At the organisational level, A has coercive power over B if A
can dismiss, suspend, or demote B, assuming that B values
his or her job.
Similarly, if A can assign B work activities that B finds
unpleasant or treat B in a manner that B finds embarrassing,
A possesses coercive power over B.
possesses Reward Power:
Reward The opposite of coercive power is reward power.
People comply because doing so produces positive benefits;
therefore, one who can distribute rewards that others view
as valuable will have power over those others.
These rewards can be anything that another person values.
Coercive power and reward power are actually counterparts
of each other. If you can remove something of positive value from another or inflict
something of negative value upon him/her, you have coercive power
over that person. If you can give someone something of positive value or remove
something of negative value, you have reward power over that person.
something Legitimate Power:
Legitimate In formal groups and organisations, the most
frequent access power is one’s structural position.
It represents the power a person receives as a
result of his/her position in the formal hierarchy.
Positions of authority include coercive and reward
Legitimate power, however, is broader than the
power to coerce and reward. It includes
acceptance of the authority of a position by
members of an organisation. 4. Information Power:
Information Refers to power that comes from access to
and control over information. When people
have needed information, others become
dependant on them. (For example,
managers have access to data that
subordinates do not have).
subordinates Personal Power
Personal 1. Expert Power:
1. Expert Expert power is "influence wielded as a result of
expertise, special skill, or knowledge."
Expertise has become a powerful source of
influence as the world has become more
technological. As jobs become more specialised,
we become increasingly dependent on experts to
achieve 2. Referent Power:
Referent Its base is identification with a person who has
desirable resources or personal traits.
If I admire and identify with you, you can exercise
power over me because I want to please you.
Referent power develops out of admiration of
another and a desire to be like that person; it is a
lot like charisma.
Referent power explains why celebrities are paid
millions of dollars to endorse products in
commercials. 3. Charismatic Power:
Charismatic Is an extension of referent power stemming
from an individual’s personality and
interpersonal Others follow because they can articulate
attractive visions, take personal risks,
demonstrate follower sensitivity, etc.
demonstrate Creation of Dependency
Creation Importance Scarcity Non Substitutability Dependency Postulate
Dependency The greater B's dependency on A, the
The greater power A has over B
greater B's dependency increases when A
controls resources that are: important to B scarce non-substitutable Ways Power holders Get What They
Want Reason—Use of facts and data to make a logical or rational
presentation of ideas
Friendliness—Use of flattery, creation of goodwill, acting
humble, and being friendly
Coalition—Getting the support of other people in the
organisation to back up the request
Bargaining—Use of negotiation through the exchange of
benefits or favours
Assertiveness—Use of a direct and forceful approach such
as demanding compliance
Higher authority—Gaining the support of higher levels in the
organisation to back up requests
Sanctions—Use of organisationally derived rewards and
punishments Usage of Power Tactics
influenced Superiors When Managers influenced
Subordinates Most Popular
Reason Reason Coalition Assertiveness Friendliness Friendliness Bargaining Coalition Assertiveness Bargaining Higher authority High authority
Sanctions Least Popular Power in Groups: Coalitions
Power Those “out of power” and seeking to be “in” will first try to
increase their power individually.
If ineffective, the alternative is to form a coalition—an informal
group bound together by the active pursuit of a single issue.
The natural way to gain influence is to become a power holder
but this may be difficult, risky, costly, or impossible. In such cases, efforts will be made to form a coalition of two or
more “outs” who, by joining together, can combine their resources
to increase rewards for themselves.
Successful coalitions have been found to contain fluid membership
and are able to form swiftly, achieve their target issue, and quickly
disappear. Sexual Harassment: Unequal Power in
the Sexual Harassment Defined: "Any unwanted activity of a sexual nature that affects an individual’s
There continues to be disagreement as to what specifically
constitutes sexual harassment:
constitutes a. Overt forms of sexual harassment of female employees.
This includes unwanted physical touching, recurring requests
for dates when it is made clear the woman is not interested, and
coercive threats that a woman will lose her job if she refuses a
b. The problem today—subtle forms of sexual harassment
such as unwanted looks or comments, off-colour jokes, sexual
artefacts like nude calendars in the workplace, etc.
artefacts Politics: Power in Action
Politics: Definition: those activities that are not
required as part of one’s formal role in
the organisation, but that influence, or
attempt to influence, the distribution of
advantages and disadvantages within
the This definition encompasses key
elements Political behaviour is outside one’s specified
It encompasses efforts to influence the goals,
criteria, or processes used for decisioncriteria,
It includes such varied political behaviours as
withholding key information from decision
makers, whistle blowing, spreading rumours,
leaking confidential information, etc.
leaking The “Legitimate-Illegitimate” Dimension
The Legitimate political behaviour refers to normal everyday
politics—complaining to your supervisor, bypassing the
chain of command, forming coalitions, etc.
Illegitimate political behaviours that violate the implied rules
of the game, such as sabotage, whistle blowing, and
symbolic protests, etc.
The vast majority of all organisational political actions are
legitimate. The extreme illegitimate forms of political
behaviour pose a very real risk of loss of organisational
membership or extreme sanction.
membership Factors Influencing Political Behavior
(from Figure 12-2)
factors High • Rewards
punishments Factors Influencing Political Behaviour
Factors Individual Factors
• High self-monitors
• Internal locus of control
• High-Achievement need
• Organisational investment
• Perceived job alternatives
• Expectations of success Organisational Factors
• Reallocation of resources
• Low trust
• Role ambiguity
• Unclear performance
• Zero-sum reward practices
• Democratic decision making
• High performance pressures
• Self-serving senior managers Political Behaviour
Low High Favourable Outcomes
punishments Transparency 12-11 Impression Management Techniques Conformity Excuses Apologies Flattery Favours Association Politicking
Politicking Frame arguments in terms of organisational
Develop the right image
Gain control of organisational resources
Make yourself appear indispensable
Develop powerful allies
Avoid “tainted” members
Support your boss Is a political action ethical?
Is the political
motivated by No action respect YES Is the political YES
the rights of
activity fair and
interests to the
exclusion of the
Unethical Ethical ...
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This note was uploaded on 06/09/2011 for the course MGT 5000 taught by Professor Rethawiesner during the Three '11 term at Southern Queensland.
- Three '11