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Legitimate Power Through Information Control A
particularly potent form of legitimate power occurs where people have the right to control the information that othersA French television program recently revealed how far people are willing to follow orders. As a variationof the 1960s experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram, 80 contestants administered electric shocks whenever a volunteer (an actor who didn't receive the shocks at all) answered a question incorrectly. Shocks increased in 20-volt increments, from 20 volts for the first mistake through to 460 volts. Contestants often hesitated after hearing the volunteer screaming for them to stop, yet continued the shocks after the host reminded them of their duty. Only 16 of the 80 contestants refused to administer the strongest shocks."
receive.12 These information gatekeepers gain power in twoways. First, information is a resource, so those who need thatinformation are dependent on the gatekeeper to provide that resource. For example, the maps department of a mining company has incredible power when other departments are dependent on the map department to deliver maps required for exploration projects.Second, information gatekeepers gain power by selectively distributing information-so those receiving the information perceive the situation differently.13 Executives depend on middle managers and employees to provide an accurate picture of the company's operations. Yet, as we learned in theprevious chapter on communication, information is often filtered as it flows up the hierarchy. Middle managers and employees filter information so it puts them in a more positive light and allows them to steers the executive team toward one decision rather thananother. In other words, these information gatekeepers can potentially influence executive decisions by framing their reality through selective distribution of information.
REWARD POWERReward power is derived from the person's ability to controlthe allocation of rewards valued by others and to remove negative sanctions (i.e., negative reinforcement). Managers have formal authority that gives them powerover the distribution of organizational rewards such as pay, promotions, time off, vacation schedules, and work assignments. Employees also have reward power over their bosses through their feedback and ratings in 360-degree feedback systems. These ratings affect supervisors' promotions and other rewards, so supervisors tend to pay more attention to employee needs after a 360-degree feedback system is introduced.COERCIVE POWERCoercive power is the ability to apply punishment. For
many of us, the first response to this definition is managers threatening employees with dismissal. Yet employees also have coercive power, such as being sarcastic toward coworkers or threatening to ostracize them if they fail to conform to team norms. Many firms rely on this coercive power to control coworker behavior in team settings. Nucor is one such example: "If you're not contributing with the