However even personal sources of power are not completely contained within the

However even personal sources of power are not

This preview shows page 42 - 45 out of 73 pages.

words, people carry these power bases around with them. However, even personal sources of power are not completely contained within the person, because they depend on how others perceive them. LEGITIMATE POWER Legitimate power is an agreement among organizational members that people in certain roles can request a set of behaviors from others. This perceived right or obligation originates from formal job descriptions, as well as informal
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rules of conduct. The most obvious example of legitimate power is a manager's right to tell employees what tasks to perform, whom to work with, what office resources they can use, and so forth. Employees follow the boss's requests because there is mutual agreement that employees will follow a range of directives from people in these positions of authority. Employees defer to this authority whether or not they will be rewarded or punished for complying with those requests. Notice that legitimate power has restrictions; it only gives the power holder the right to ask for a range of behaviors from others. This range—known as the "zone of indifference"—is the set of behaviors that individuals are willing to engage in at the other person's request.7 Although most employees accept the boss's right to deny them access to Facebook during company time, some might draw the line when the boss asks them to work several hours beyond the regular workday. There are also occasions in which employees actively oppose the boss's actions. The size of the zone of indifference (and, consequendy, the magnitude of legitimate power) increases with the level of trust in the power holder. Some values and personality traits also make people more obedient to authority. Those who value conformity and tradition and have high power distance
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(i.e., they accept an unequal distribution of power) tend to express higher deference to authority The organization's culture represents another influence on the willingness of employees to follow orders. A 3M scientist might continue to work on a project after being told by superiors to stop working on it because the 3M culture supports an entrepreneurial spirit, which includes ignoring your boss's authority from time to time.8 Managers are not the only people with legitimate power in organizations. Employees also have legitimate power over their bosses and coworkers through legal and administrative rights, as well as informal norms.9 For example, an organization might give employees the right to request information that is required for their job. Laws give employees the right to refuse work in unsafe conditions. More subtle forms of legitimate power also exist. Human beings have a norm of reciprocity—a feeling of obligation to help someone who has helped them.10 If a coworker previously helped you handle a difficult client, that coworker has power because you feel an obligation to help the coworker on something of similar value in the future. The norm of reciprocity is a form of legitimate power because it is an informal rule of conduct that we are expected to follow.
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