Chapter 9: Power and Influence
INTRODUCTION TO POWER, INFLUENCE, AND POLITICAL BEHAVIOUR
Power: the ability of one party to change or control the behaviour, attitudes, opinions, objectives, needs or values of
Influence: the process of exercising this power by affecting the thoughts, behaviour, and feelings of others.
Political behaviour: influence attempts that are for personal gain and are not officially sanctioned by an organization.
Powerless: a lack of power
The organizing power conversion grid (OPCG): An organizing framework
-Framework for understanding the many complex issues involved in understanding how power gets converted into
sanctioned and non –sanctioned influence in organizations
-Having access to power does not guarantee that an individual will become influential
-cause and effect relationships between power sources, influence tactics, and outcomes are moderated by certain
organizational conditions such as the degree to which someone is replaceable.
-times of uncertainty and lack of resources causes people to be more likely to use power and influence.
INDIVIDUAL SOURCES OF POWER
legitimate power Power based on position and mutual agreement that the power holder has the right to
influence another person. “Do it because Im the boss”
reward power Power based on a person’s ability to control the rewards that another person wants. “Do
it because there is something in it for you”
coercive power Power based on a person’s ability to cause an unpleasant experience. “Do it ..or else”
referent power An elusive power based on interpersonal attraction. Charisma: a personality trait that
gives a leader referent power over followers. “Do it because you respect/identify/like
expert power Power based on a person’s expertise, competence and information in a certain area.
Others comply because they believe in the power holder’s knowledge and competence.
Does not come with position but has to be earned. “Do it because you value my expertise
on the matter”
information Access to and control over important information. Others comply because they want the
power information the power holder has. “Do it because you want access to the information I
ORGANIZATIONAL CONDITIONS THAT ENABLE POWER AND INFLUENCE
These organizational conditions that enable power and influence are as follows:
•Control of Critical Resources (including information) or activities
When a submit or individual controls an important resource which another person or group desires that subunit or
individual holds power.
Organizational power can also be obtained to the extent that an individual group controls activities or work processes
that other groups depend on.
If a group’s functioning is central – important to the organizations success it has high centrality. Centrality or importance
can also change depending upon circumstances.
The extent to which a group performs a function that is indispensable to an organization and for which there is no
• Ability to help organization cope with uncertainty
If a subunit has the ability to help deal with uncertainty, it has power. External drivers such as social, political, legal,
economic, and technological changes create uncertainty and result in power being gained and lost as the organization’s
environment changes. USING POWER ETHICALLY
Since all organizations are hierarchical and contain power imbalances the ethical use of power is critical to creating a
positive work environment. Ethical Behaviour is acting in ways consistent with one’s personal values and the common
values held of the organization and society. Ethics surrounding the use of power is tested by three questions that show
the criteria for examining power related behaviours:
•Does the behaviour produce a good outcome for people both inside and outside organization? (greatest good for the
greatest number of people)
•Does the behaviour respect the rights of all parties? (free speech, privacy and due process)
•Does the behaviour treat all parties equitably and fairly?
Empowerment occurs when employees make more of their own decisions through an increased sense of self efficacy, self
determination, impact and meaning in their work.
The driving idea is that the individuals closest to the work and to the customers should make the decisions.
Core dimensions of empowerment and interpersonal trust
Self Efficacy: sense of personal competence and confidence. Without competence, employees will feel inadequate and
lack a sense of empowerment.
Employees feel empowered with meaning which is when they sense a value in the purpose of what they are doing.
Self determination exists when employees have a sense of personal choice, freedom and control over their work. Similar
Impact is a belief that one’s job makes a difference; it is often related to self determination.
Recent research has emphasized the importance of interpersonal trust on empowerment. Interpersonal Trust is the
expectancy held by an individual or group of people that they can rely on the word or promise of another party, and
depends on the belief that the party is competent, open, concerned and reliable. Two distinct components: trust based
on cognition (thinking) and trust based on affect (feeling).
Empowerment is a matter of degree: the employee empowerment grid
Two axes: job content and job context.
Job content: is the horizontal axis. Relates to the way that a job is carried out, including the tasks and procedures.
Job context: is the vertical axis. Relates to the purpose of job and includes the way the job fits into the organizations
mission, goals and objectives.
×No discretion traditional, assembly-line job, highly routine and repetitive, no decision making power of job
(point A) content or context.
×Task Setting (point