1. Chapter 12 – Power, Politics and Ethics
What Is Power?
• Power is the capacity to influence others who are in a state of
• It is not always perceived or exercised.
• It does not imply a poor relationship between the power holder and
the target of power.
• Power can flow in any direction in an organization.
• Power applies to both individuals and groups.
The Bases of Individual Power
• Power can be found in the position one occupies in an organization
and the resources that one is able to command.
• There are five bases of individual power:
– Legitimate power
– Reward power
– Coercive power
– Referent power
– Expert power
• Power derived from a person’s position or job in an organization.
• It is based on one’s formal authority and level in an organization’s
• Legitimate power works because people have been socialized to
accept its influence.
Reward Power • Power derived from the ability to provide positive outcomes and
prevent negative outcomes.
• It corresponds to the concept of positive reinforcement.
• Any organizational member can attempt to exert influence over others
with praise, compliments, and flattery.
• Power derived from the use of punishment and threat.
• Lower-level organizational members can also apply their share of
• When managers use coercive power, it is generally ineffective and can
provoke considerable employee resistance.
• Power derived from being well liked by others.
• It stems from identification with the power holder.
• Referent power is available to anyone in an organization who is well
• Friendly interpersonal relations often permit influence to extend
across the organization, outside the usual channels of legitimate
authority, reward, and coercion.
• Power derived from having special information or expertise that is
valued by an organization.
• Expert power corresponds to difficulty of replacement.
• Lower-level organizational members can have expert power.
• Of all the bases of power, expertise is most consistently associated
with employee effectiveness. • Employees perceive women managers as more likely than male
managers to be high in expert power.
Employee Responses to Bases of Power
Empowerment: Putting Power Where It Is Needed
• Empowerment means giving people the authority, opportunity, and
motivation to take initiative and solve organizational problems.
• Key components:
• People who are empowered have a strong sense of self-efficacy.
• Empowering lower-level employees can be critical in service
• Empowerment fosters job satisfaction, organizational commitment,
OCBs, and high performance. • Empowerment puts power where it is needed to make the
• This depends on organizational strategy and customer expectations.
• Could organizational members have too much power?
Relationship Between Power and Performance
Influence Tactics – Putting Power to Work
• How does power result in influence?
• Influence tactics convert power into actual influence over others.
• They are specific behaviours that people use to affect others and
manage others’ impressions of them.
• Upward appeal
• Coalition formation • What determines which influence tactics you might use?
• The use of an influence tactic is determined by one’s base of power
and who they are trying to influence (subordinates, peers, or
• The use of rationality is viewed positively by others and it is frequently
• Subordinates are more likely to be the recipients of assertiveness.
• Rationality is most likely to be directed toward superiors.
• Exchange, ingratiation, and upward appeal are favoured tactics for
influencing both peers and subordinates.
Organizational Politics – Using and Abusing Power
• Not all uses of power constitute politics.
• What is organizational politics?
The Basics of Organizational Politics
• Organizational politics refers to the pursuit of self-interest in an
organization, whether or not this self-interest corresponds to
• Politics frequently involves using means of influence that the
organization does not sanction or pursuing ends or goals that it does
• Political activity is self-conscious and intentional.
• It can be an individual or subunit activity.
• Political activity can have beneficial outcomes for an organization even
though the outcomes are achieved by questionable tactics.
• We can explore organizational politics using the means/ends matrix. • It is the association between influence means and influence ends that
determines whether activities are political and whether these
activities benefit the organization.