Various power tactics in organisational behaviour

Six decades ago, social psychologists John R.

Power Tactics: 7 tactical Dimensions or Strategies of Power Tactics

French and Bertram H. Raven revolutionized the concept of power in organizational behavior. They came up with five types of power that define how individuals lead and influence others and why. Despite over half a century passing since, their work remains relevant and enlightening.

Understanding the five forms of power can be beneficial for anyone seeking to gain advancement and authority in their career. The French-Raven study was illustrative in showing that power can come in different forms and still generate results. Understanding various power dynamics can help you navigate to a position of power yourself and maybe help you maintain and sustain that power for the long term.

Each power type falls under the classification of either personal or formal power. If someone has personal powerit means their power comes from people following or admiring them for who they are, what they know and how they act. When a leader favors coercive power above all others, it makes for an unpleasant environment.

Coercion is when those in power rule by fear of punishment, demotion or shame to get workers motivated. In a coercive environment, people will arrive early and leave late for all the wrong reasons. The result is a fevered sales frenzy in which the realtors will do anything they can to make a sale.

A person with referent power can be someone whose opinions are always valued, who provides insightful commentary or creative ideas and who's turned to by colleagues for advice or consultation on matters.

The downside to referent power is it takes a long time to develop. A good example is Starbucks, as the whole company thrives on reward power. Managers of stores are given targets for sales, staffing and more; achieving these come with many perks, not the least of which are cash bonuses and stock options. As a result, store managers tend to be highly driven people who voraciously read leadership and management materials issued regularly by the corporation.

In turn, they, too, often lead by reward power, giving employees praise and recommending them for seniority and other rewards. It often inspires employees to seek praise and social inclusion for their accomplishments rather than needing to ostracize others for failures. In organizations that use a matrix power structure, legitimate power is compromised or weakened. Matrix organizations have several managers or leaders who may all have similar or equal power in a company, with none holding more titular power than the other.

In these instances, legitimate power can be questioned or contravened because someone else could issue contradicting directives. Like referent power, expert power takes a while to achieve. One must be considered a thought leader to wield expert power. Simply having qualifications or certifications, or creating or gaining a reputation for wisdom, can be enough to give someone expert power.Learn something new every day More Info Organizational behavior refers to the targeted study of the various interactions that occur within a specified organizational setting, in relation to its applicability to a wider set of standards that may be applied to such structures.

various power tactics in organisational behaviour

The role of power in organizational behavior is just one of the many factors that affect the structure of organizational behavior. In the application of power in organizational behavior, it may be personal, legitimate or expert.

When studying the role of power in organizational behavior, personal power is clearly delineated from other types of power because it has its own characteristics. This type of power is vested in the individual and is not derived from any other source. Such a leader is able to have a more personal and loyal relationship with subordinates due to the fact that the subordinates are responding to the nature of the leader as a person, and not because of any other consideration.

The danger of this type of power is the fact that any change that occurs within the organization where a dynamic leader is replaced might be met with opposition and resentment by the subordinates who may not have the same level of affinity and loyalty for the replacement leader.

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Another aspect of the study of the role of power in organizational behavior is the study of legitimate power within the organization. Legitimate power refers to the type of power that is vested within the position the leader is occupying, and, through transference, to the leader.

This type of power has nothing to do with the personality of the leader who may lack any exceptional leadership qualities. Power in organizational behavior may also refer to expert power, which is only based on the superior knowledge or skills of the person occupying a position.

When it becomes obvious that another individual in the organization has a superior skill set, the manager might not be able to use such knowledge as a leverage for commanding the respect of subordinates. One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK! Upper management uses organizational structure to control who has power and authority in the company.

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13.4 Organizational Politics

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Thank You!Power has been an important aspect of human civilization since time immemorial. Power might be physical, political or social.

In the context of business as well, power dynamics tend to influence decisions and people transactions heavily. So defining power can be difficult as it is understood and interpreted in several ways however power can definitely not be called a force which gets you what you want. Power basically emanates from position or authority which can influence people both positively and negatively. Coercive Power- This kind of power involves the usage of threat to make people do what one desires.

In the organizational set up, it translates into threatening someone with transfer, firing, demotions etc. Reward Power- As the name suggests, this type of power uses rewards, perks, new projects or training opportunities, better roles and monetary benefits to influence people. However an interesting aspect of this type of power is that, it is not powerful enough in itself, as decisions related to rewards do not rest solely with the person promising them, because in organizations, a lot of other people come into play like senior managers and board.

Legitimate Power- This power emanates from an official position held by someone, be it in an organization, beurocracy or government etc. Expert Power- This is a personal kind of power which owes its genesis to the skills and expertise possessed by an individual, which is of higher quality and not easily available.

In such a situation, the person can exercise the power of knowledge to influence people. Since, it is very person specific and skills can be enhanced with time; it has more credibility and respect. Referent Power- This is a power wielded by celebrities and film stars as they have huge following amongst masses who like them, identify with them and follow them. Hence, they exert lasting influence on a large number of people for a large number of decisions; like from what car to buy to which candidate to choose for a higher office in the country.

So, power can be defined in a number of ways however what is important is the usage of the power by people who possess it. Within the organizational context the power dynamics and equations need to be carefully managed as they have a huge impact on the motivation and engagement level of employees. A very hierarchy and power driven organization finds it difficult to accommodate new and innovative ideas, any change is vehemently refused, egos clash and lesser opportunities are made available for the high performers, thus delaying organizational growth.

On the other hand, in an organization which is flat in structure, people are encouraged to innovate and explore, thus bringing in new concepts and ideas to accelerate organizational growth and expansion.Politics has been around for millennia.

Power and Politics in Organizational Life

Aristotle wrote that politics stems from a diversity of interests, and those competing interests must be resolved in some way.

Today, work in organizations requires skill in handling conflicting agendas and shifting power bases. Although often portrayed negatively, organizational politics are not inherently bad.

various power tactics in organisational behaviour

Of course, individuals within organizations can waste time overly engaging in political behavior. In our discussion about power, we saw that power issues often arise around scarce resources. Organizations typically have limited resources that must be allocated in some way.

Individuals and groups within the organization may disagree about how those resources should be allocated, so they may naturally seek to gain those resources for themselves or for their interest groups, which gives rise to organizational politics.

Simply put, with organizational politics, individuals ally themselves with like-minded others in an attempt to win the scarce resources. Politics are a part of organizational life, because organizations are made up of different interests that need to be aligned. A person engaging in these types of political behaviors is said to be engaging in self-serving behavior that is not sanctioned by the organization Ferris et al.

Examples of these self-serving behaviors include bypassing the chain of command to get approval for a special project, going through improper channels to obtain special favors, or lobbying high-level managers just before they make a promotion decision.

These types of actions undermine fairness in the organization, because not everyone engages in politicking to meet their own objectives. The negative side of organizational politics is more likely to flare up in times of organizational change or when there are difficult decisions to be made and a scarcity of resources that breeds competition among organizational groups.

To minimize overly political behavior, company leaders can provide equal access to information, model collaborative behavior, and demonstrate that political maneuvering will not be rewarded or tolerated. Furthermore, leaders should encourage managers throughout the organization to provide high levels of feedback to employees about their performance. Remember that politics can be a healthy way to get things done within organizations. There are a number of potential individual antecedents of political behavior.

We will start off by understanding the role that personality has in shaping whether someone will engage in political behavior. Individuals who are high in internal locus of control believe that they can make a difference in organizational outcomes. They do not leave things to fate. Therefore, we would expect those high in internal locus of control to engage in more political behavior.

Investment in the organization is also related to political behavior. If a person is highly invested in an organization either financially or emotionally, they will be more likely to engage in political behavior because they care deeply about the fate of the organization.

Finally, expectations of success also matter. When a person expects that they will be successful in changing an outcome, they are more likely to engage in political behavior. Think about it: If you know there is no chance that you can influence an outcome, why would you spend your valuable time and resources working to effect change?

Scarcity of resources breeds politics. When resources such as monetary incentives or promotions are limited, people see the organization as more political. Any type of ambiguity can relate to greater organizational politics. For example, role ambiguity allows individuals to negotiate and redefine their roles. This freedom can become a political process. Research shows that when people do not feel clear about their job responsibilities, they perceive the organization as more political Muhammad, Ambiguity also exists around performance evaluations and promotions.

These human resource practices can lead to greater political behavior, such as impression management, throughout the organization. As you might imagine, democratic decision making leads to more political behavior. Since many people have a say in the process of making decisions, there are more people available to be influenced.There are few business activities more prone to a credibility gap than the way in which executives approach organizational life.

A sense of disbelief occurs when managers purport to make decisions in rationalistic terms while most observers and participants know that personalities and politics play a significant if not an overriding role. Where does the error lie? In the theory which insists that decisions should be rationalistic and nonpersonal?

Power Tactics Intro

Or in the practice which treats business organizations as political structures? Whatever else organizations may be problem-solving instruments, sociotechnical systems, reward systems, and so onthey are political structures. This means that organizations operate by distributing authority and setting a stage for the exercise of power. It is no wonder, therefore, that individuals who are highly motivated to secure and use power find a familiar and hospitable environment in business. At the same time, executives are reluctant to acknowledge the place of power both in individual motivation and in organizational relationships.

Somehow, power and politics are dirty words. And in linking these words to the play of personalities in organizations, some managers withdraw into the safety of organizational logics.

As I shall suggest in this article, frank recognition of the importance of personality factors and a sensitive use of the strengths and limitations of people in decisions on power distributions can improve the quality of organizational life. Organizations provide a power base for individuals. From a purely economic standpoint, organizations exist to create a surplus of income over costs by meeting needs in the marketplace.

But organizations also are political structures which provide opportunities for people to develop careers and therefore provide platforms for the expression of individual interests and motives. The development of careers, particularly at high managerial and professional levels, depends on accumulation of power as the vehicle for transforming individual interests into activities which influence other people.

A political pyramid exists when people compete for power in an economy of scarcity. In other words, people cannot get the power they want just for the asking. Instead, they have to enter into the decisions on how to distribute authority in a particular formal organization structure. Scarcity of power arises under two sets of conditions:.

In either case, the psychology of scarcity and comparison takes over.Bargaining is the use of negotiations through the exchange of benefits or favours. The party having greater bargaining power is able to get more benefits than the sacrifices made. Collective bargaining agreements between labour and management are the result of negotiations. A person can gain power over another person by the use of flattery, creation of goodwill, acting humble and being friendly prior to making a request.

Coalition is the temporary alliance of two or more individuals or groups who combine their efforts and energy for the common goal. By forming a coalition, the members are able to increase their power over groups not in their coalition.

Coalitions are generally used in organisations for having influence on setting of goals and distribution of benefits to the constituents. Due to the scarcity of the resources in the organisation, various groups compete with each other to have a greater share of such resources.

For this, they try to influence the criteria used as the basis of resource distribution in the form of funds, space, support staff etc. Each group argues for those criteria which are likely to fetch it more power.

Under the scheme of cooptation a group gives some of its important positions of members of the other groups or includes them in its policy making committee. Hence the criticism and threats from those other groups are blunted. For example, corporations generally include representatives of the financial institutions in their board of directors, in order to maintain stable relationships with the financial institutions.

A person can use reasoning to gain power over others. Reasoning consists of use of facts and data to make a logical or rational presentation of ideas. Assertiveness is the use of a direct and forceful approach.

The manager may demand strict compliance with requests repeating orders, ordering individuals to do what is asked and pointing out that rules require compliance. Some managers may gain the support of higher levels in the organisation to back up their requests to their subordinates. Sanctions consist of traditional reward and punishment method. A person can gain power over another person by preventing or promising a pay rise, by demoting or promoting a person or by threatening to give an unsatisfactory performance appraisal.

Pressure tactics are a part of power struggle in modern organisations. It is a hostile method of gaining power. For example, the trade unions may threaten strikes if their demands are not met by the management.

On the other hand, management may threaten a lock out in the factory, if the trade unions do not accept its terms. Power: Meaning, Faces and Acquisition of Power. Studying Power Dynamics in an Organization.Having power and using power are two different things. For example, imagine a manager who has the power to reward or punish employees.

When the manager makes a request, he or she will probably be obeyed even though the manager does not actually reward the employee. The fact that the manager has the ability to give rewards and punishments will be enough for employees to follow the request. You might earn power from one source or all six depending on the situation.

Let us take a look at each of these in turn, and continue with Steve Jobs from the opening case as our example. People who have legitimate power should be aware of how their choices and behaviors affect others. For example, a boss can assign projects, a policeman can arrest a citizen, and a teacher assigns grades. Others comply with the requests these individuals make because they accept the legitimacy of the position, whether they like or agree with the request or not. He could set deadlines and employees comply even if they think the deadlines were overly ambitious.

Start-up organizations often have founders who use their legitimate power to influence individuals to work long hours week after week in order to help the company survive. Reward power is the ability to grant a reward, such as an increase in pay, a perk, or an attractive job assignment. Reward power tends to accompany legitimate power and is highest when the reward is scarce.

Anyone can wield reward power, however, in the form of public praise or giving someone something in exchange for their compliance. When Steve Jobs ran Apple, he had reward power in the form of raises and promotions. Another example of reward power comes from Bill Gross, founder of Idealab, who has the power to launch new companies or not.

He created his company with the idea of launching other new companies as soon as they could develop viable ideas. That way, everyone had a stake in the company. In contrast, coercive power is the ability to take something away or punish someone for noncompliance. Coercive power often works through fear, and it forces people to do something that ordinarily they would not choose to do.

The most extreme example of coercion is government dictators who threaten physical harm for noncompliance.

various power tactics in organisational behaviour

Parents may also use coercion such as grounding their child as punishment for noncompliance. Steve Jobs has been known to use coercion—yelling at employees and threatening to fire them. In other examples, John D. Rockefeller was ruthless when running Standard Oil Company.

American presidents have been known to use coercion power. Expert power comes from knowledge and skill. Steve Jobs has expert power from his ability to know what customers want—even before they can articulate it. Others who have expert power in an organization include long-time employees, such as a steelworker who knows the temperature combinations and length of time to get the best yields.


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