Sources of power in organizations

Sources of power in organizations - Formal authority The...

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Formal authority The simplest form of power is that vested in the position of 'manager'. A manager has subordinates who must do his or her bidding, only within legal and organizational rules. The basic employment transaction is 'we give you money; you do as you are told'. Of course there are many more ways that power can be exerted, and in particular in motivating people more effectively such as is found in transformational leadership . Control of scarce resources Other than directing employees, managers control budgets and the assets and other resources that the firm holds, from technology to people. A part of this control is the ability to allocate these resources to projects and other work. It is not unsurprising that many of the political battles in organizations is over control of resources and 'empire-building' is a classic game, with a significant risk that organizational goals get forgotten in the cut and thrust of winning and losing control of resources. Use of organizational structure, rules and regulations Organizations have hierarchies, departments, teams and other structures, often each with its own rules as well as the rules that govern the action within the organization as a whole. Many people do not know all of these rules, which makes them a source of power for those who care to take time to learn their detail. Power can also be gained from quoting rules that do not exist or misquoting rules by overstating or understating their meaning. Control of decision processes Work is selected and resources are allocated by decisions, many of which are decided in some form by groups of people. By managing how decisions are made, for example by requiring consensus or senior-manager signoff, the power of some people may be curtailed whilst others gain the ability to shape decisions. When decisions are made in committee or other meetings, the person who chairs the meeting or keeps the minutes may have notable power to control decisions.
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Control of knowledge and information Knowledge is power, as they say, and how you gather and distribute it is a source of power, whether it is technical or social information. Experts often work in this way, protecting their elevated status by hiding the sources of their knowledge and exacting high prices (whether financial or social) for their learned opinions. Control of boundaries The structures and groups of the organization are only so because they have boundaries which people cross in order to access resources and meet people. Thus, for example, an executive's Personal Assistant may have disproportionate power in the ability to allow access or not to the executive. Likewise security guards, though not paid very much can allow, bar or hassle people crossing their boundaries.
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Sources of power in organizations - Formal authority The...

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