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team, they certainly will let you know about it," says an executive at the Charlotte, North Carolina, steelmaker. "The few poor players get weeded out by their peers." Similarly, when asked how AirAsia maintained attendance and productivity after the Malaysian discount airline removed time clocks, chief executive Tony Fernandes replied: "Simple. Peer pressure sees to that. The fellow employees, who are putting their shoulders to the wheel, will see to that."14EXPERT POWERFor the most part, legitimate, reward, and coercive power originate from the position.15 Expert power, on the other hand, originates mainly from within the power holder. It is anindividual's or work unit's capacity to influence others by possessing knowledge or skills valued by others. One important form of expert power is the (perceived) ability to
manage uncertainties in the business environment. Organizations are more effective when they operate in predictable environments, so they value people who can cope with turbulence in the consumer trends, societal changes, unstable supply lines, and so forth.A groundbreaking study of breweries and container companies identified three types of expertise that cope with uncertainty. These coping strategies are arranged in a hierarchy of importance, with prevention being the most powerful:16· Prevention. The most effective strategy is to prevent environmental changes from occurring. For example, financial experts acquire power by preventing the organization from experiencing a cash shortage or defaulting on loans
· .· Forecasting. The next best strategy is to predict environmental changes or variations. In this respect, trendspotters and other marketing specialists gain power by predicting changes in consumer preferences.· Absorption. People and work units also gain power by
absorbing or neutralizing the impact of environmental shifts as they occur. An example is the ability of maintenance crewsto come to the rescue when machines break down.Many people respond to expertise just as they respond to authority: They mindlessly follow the guidance of these experts.18 In one classic study, for example, a researcher posing as a hospital physician telephoned on-duty nurses to prescribe a specific dosage of medicine to a hospitalized patient. None of the nurses knew the person calling, and hospital policy forbade them from accepting treatment by telephone (i.e., they lacked legitimatepower). Furthermore, the medication was unauthorized, and the prescription was twice the maximum daily dose. Yet, almost all 22 nurses who received the telephone call followedthe "doctor's" orders until stopped by researchers.19This doctor-nurse study is a few decades old, but the power of expertise remains just as strong today, sometimes with tragic consequences. The Canadian justice system recently discovered that one of its "star" expert witnesses, a forensic child pathology expert, had provided inaccurate cause of death evaluations in at least 20 cases, a dozen of which
resulted in wrongful or highly questionable criminal convictions. The pathologist's reputation as a renowned