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BUS 272 - Canadian Organizational Behaviour (McShane Steen) Chapters 10 - 12

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Business Administration
BUS 272
Graeme Coetzer

Chapter 10 Power and Influence in the Workplace The Meaning of Power Power the capacity of a person, team, or organization to influence others o Only has potential to change someones attitudes or behaviour o Important prerequisite: one person or group believes it is dependent on another person or group for a resource of value Countervailing power the capacity of a person, team or organization to keep a more powerful person or group in the exchange relationship A model of power in organizations o Power derived from 5 sources: legitimate, reward, coercive, expert, referent o 4 contingencies: substitutability, centrality, discretion, visibility Sources of Power in Organizations From powerholders formal position/informal role legitimate, reward, coercive From powerholders own characteristics expert, referent Legitimate power an agreement among org members that ppl in certain roles can request certain behaviours from others o Originates from formal job descriptions and informal rules of conduct o Extends to employees, not just managers o Depends on mutual agreement from those expected to abide by authority o zone of indifference range within which ppl are willing to accept someone elses authority Increases the more tat the powerholder is trusted and makes fair decisions; more obedience to authority, organizational culture Reward power a persons ability to control the allocation of rewards valued by others and to remove negative sanctions o Formal authority over distribution of e.g. pay, promotions, time off, etc. o Employees have reward power via 360-degree feedback systems Coercive power the ability to apply punishment o reliance on coercive power from fellow employees to control co-worker behaviour Expert power an individuals or work units capacity to influence others by possessing knowledge or skills that they value o Power is apparent when observing how ppl respond to authority figures Referent power when others identify/like/respect them o Largely a function of interpersonal skills and develops slowly o Usually associated w/ charisma form of interpersonal attraction whereby followers ascribe almost magical powers to said individual Information and power o Information is power o Information power is gained when ppl control flow of info to others employees dependent on info, also controlling perceptions of situation form of legitimate power, most common in highly bureaucratic firms o all-channels structure nobody has control over form of info o ability to cope w/ organizational uncertainties form of expert power; valuable b/c orgs are more effective when they can operate in predictable enviros prevention: most effective strategy preventing enviro changes from occurring forecasting predicting enviro changes or variations absorption absorbing or neutralizing the impact of enviro shifts as they occur Contingencies of Power Substitutability a contingency of power referring to the availability of alternatives o Power strongest when someone has a monopoly over valued resources, decreases as number of alternative sources of resource increase o Refers not just to other sources offering this resource, but also to substitutions of resource itself Centrality a contingency of power referring to the degree and nature of interdependence between the powerholder and others o How many ppl are affected, and how much time would pass before they are affected? Discretion the freedom to exercise judgment (to make decisions without referring to a specific rule or receiving permission from someone else) o Lack of discretion makes supervisors less powerful; research indicates that discretion varies considerably across industries, and managers w/ internal locus of control are viewed as more powerful b/c they behave as though they have discretion in their job Visibility those who control valued resources/knowledge yield power only when others are aware of these power bases (i.e. visible) o Increase visibility is to take people oriented jobs and work on projects that require frequent interaction w. senior executives o Also gain visibility by being literally visible more visible offices, public symbols, face time (spending more time at work and showing that they are working productively) Social Networking and power o Networking cultivating social relationships w/ others to accomplish ones goals o Increases power in 3 ways Critical component of social capital (the knowledge and other resources available to ppl or social units due to a durable network that connects them to others) more you network, more likely you will receive valuable info that increases expert power Ppl tend to identify more w/ partners their own networks, increasing referent power among ppl within each network leads to more favourable decisions by others in the network Effective networkers better known by others in the org, so talents are more readily recognized; power increases when networks place themselves in strategic positions in network, gaining centrality o Social networks can be a barrier to those not actively connected to it women often excluded from powerful networks b/c they dont participate in male-dominated social events Consequences of Power o Empowerment an individuals feeling of self-determination, meaning, competence and impact in the org Employees who receive more power feel more empowered, w/ right conditions Increase employee motivation, job satisfaction, org commitment, job performance more goal-directed, act on enviro rather than from it o Increasing power may undermine individuals effectiveness or interpersonal relations Ppl who have more power over others may cling more to stereotypes, are less empathetic, less accurate perceptions, engage in more automatic thinking Influencing Others Influence any behaviour that attempts to alter someones attitudes or behaviour o Power in motion applies one or more power bases to get ppl to alter beliefs, feelings and activities o An essential process through which ppl coordinate their effort and act in concert to achieve org objectives; central to definition of leadership Types of Influence Tactics o Hard influence tactics (b/c they force behaviour change through position power Silent Authority influencing behaviour through legitimate power w/o explicitly referring to that power base deference to authority when someone complies w/ a request b/c of requesters legitimate power and target persons role expectations Most common form of influence in high power distance cultures Assertiveness actively applying legitimate and coercive power by applying pressure or threats; vocal authority Includes constantly reminding target of their obligations, checking targets work, confronting target, using threats to force compliance Typically applies or threatens to apply punishment if target doesnt comply Information Control explicitly manipulating someone elses access to information for the purpose of changing their attitudes and/or behaviour w/ limited access to potentially valuable info, others are at a disadvantage employees influence executive decisions by screening out info flowing up hierarchy Coalition formation forming a group that attempts to influence others by pooling resources and power of its members Influential in 3 ways: o Pools power and resources of many ppl, so coalition may have more influence than any number of ppl operating alone o Coalitions existence can be source of power by symbolizing legitimacy of the issue creates sense of that issue deserves attention b/c it has broad support o Coalitions tap into power of social identity process if has broad-based membership, then other employees more likely to identify w/ that group and accept ideas of coalition
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