MHR 405 Lecture Notes - Interpersonal Attraction, Self-Determination, Policy
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
Power based on position and mutual agreement that the power holder has the right to
influence another person. “Do it because Im the boss”
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”
Power based on a person’s ability to cause an unpleasant experience. “Do it ..or else”
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
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”
Access to and control over important information. Others comply because they want the
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
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.
traditional, assembly-line job, highly routine and repetitive, no decision making power of job
content or context.
×Task Setting (point
essence of the most empowerment programs in the organizations today. Employee is empowered
to make decision about the best way to get the job done but have no decision responsibility for
the job context
situation typical of autonomous work groups that have some decision making power over both job
context and content.
× Mission defining
unusual case of empowerment and is seldom seen. Employees have power over job context but
total decision making control over both job content and job context. Expression of trust
Barriers to Empowerment
Even when employees have the information and skills to be empowered, the boss still has to trust the employee.
Empowered employees are less likely to say how high when a boss says jump. May find it difficult to give up control, and
their needs for achievement, recognition, and security have to be addressed if empowerment efforts are to succeed.
Sometimes empowerment fails because empowered employees lack the necessary skills, authority or information to do
the job well.
Even if the employee is ready and able to be empowered, self efficacy may not be an important enough intrinsic
motivator for any one individual who may be more motivated by social interaction, or money, or competition.
CONVERTING POWER INTO ORGANIZATIONALLY SANCTIONED INFLUENCE
Organizationally sanctioned influence tactics and networking
Sanctioned influence tactics are those approved of (sanctioned), and that people consider acceptable because they are
part of the organization’s norm. These tactics include: rational persuasion, apprising, inspirational appeals, consultation,
collaboration, ingratiation, personal appeals, exchange, coalition tactics, legitimizing tactics, and pressure.
Networking is building and nurturing of personal and professional relationships to create a system or chain of
information, contacts and support.
Anand and Conger discovered four skills that are effective for networking:
1-seeking out the key decision maker in situations
2-matcing up people based on the needs of the task
3-making it easier for people to access the network
4-interacting in a friendly way with others to build positive relationships
Common reactions to the organizationally sanctioned influence Tactics
Three common reaction to power and influence attempts:
Follow Compliance: when leaders use exchange, pressure, legitimizing tactics, or upward appeal, followers tend to
comply, at least temporarily. Reliance on these powers is dangerous however employees may not work unless the
manager is present, constant surveillance is required. May result on employee dependency.
Follower Commitment: Employees internalize what they observe and learn from the managers they perceive to be
experts. The most effective influence tactic in terms of achieving objectives is rational persuasion on expert power.
Follower Resistance: Employees will resist to influence attempts by their managers.
Influencing (Managing) the boss
−The employee-boss relationship is one of mutual dependence even though the boss has more legitimate power, so
employees need to take an active role in managing it, and if they do so they become very influential with their bosses
−The guidelines are as follow: (1) Making sure one understands one’s boss and his/her context. (2) Assess yourself and
your needs (3) develop and maintain a relationship.
−Use of expertise power (rational persuasion) has been found to have a positive effect on supervisors assessments of
promotability, while ingratiation may have a negative effect since supervisors see their employees ingratiation attempts
as self-serving attempts to get ahead.
−When supervisors believe an employee’s motive for doing favours is seen as “brownnosing” (ingratiation: flattering,
opinion conformity and subservient behaviour), supervisors respond negatively.
NON SANCTIONED INFLUENCE TACTICS (POLITICAL BEHAVIOUR) AND THEIR EFFECTS
−Not all influence attempts are directed toward organizational goals, those are referred to as sanctioned influence tactics
or political behaviour as they are for personal gain and are therefore not officially sanctioned by the organization.
−Distinction between productive and counterproductive depends on:
(1)the perceived motive of the power holder (2) whether the influence attempt is ethical (3) whether the power holder’s
behaviour is sanctioned (approved) by the organization.
−Political tactics are often referred to as the dark side of power and are as follows: (1) attacking or blaming others
(scapegoating) for something you did, avoiding or stalling, intimidation and manipulation and deceit, taking credit for
other people’s work, inappropriate control of information.