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Lecture 12

MSCI211 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Reinforcement, Enes Kanter, Buck Passing

Management Sciences
Course Code
Frank Safayeni

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Organizational Behaviour - Chapter 12 Power, Politics, and Ethics
Power: the capacity to influence others who are in a state of dependence
It is not always perceived or exercised it is the capacity to influence others
o Professors = great degree of potential power in terms of grades, assignment load but under normal
circumstances, they only use a small amt of this power
The fact that the target of power is dependent on the powerholder does not imply that a poor
relationship exists between the two
o Your best friend has power to influence your behaviour b/c you are dependent on them for friendly
reactions and social support
Power can flow in any direction in an organization, but often those in higher levels have more
power than those at lower levels
o The reverse can occur in specific cases a janitor finds out an affair with the CEO and secretary and can
exhibit power over them for the CEO to keep their reputation
Power applies to both individuals and groups
o An individual production manager might exert considerable influence over to supervisors reporting to them,
and the marketing department may be the most powerful department in the company, able to get its way
French and Raven: power can be found in the position that you occupy in the company or the
resources that you are able to command
If other members do not respect your position/value the resources you command = not be
dependent on you = lack the power to influence them
Legitimate Power
Legitimate Power: power derived from a person’s position/job in an organization
Constitutes judgement about who is formally permitted to influence whom: called authority
Move up the organization’s hierarchy = more possess legitimate power
o In theory, organizational equals (vice presidents) have equal legitimate power, but some more
likely than others to invoke their legitimate power Look, I’m the boss around here”
Military = designed to emphasize legitimate power with rituals, uniforms versus
Universities = downplay differences in legitimate power of lecturers, professors ...
Legitimate power works b/c people have been socialized to accept its influence
Study: workers cite legitimate power as major reason for following boss’s directives
Reward Power
Reward Power: power derived from the ability to provide positive outcome and prevent
negative outcomes - Corresponds to the concept of positive reinforcement
Reward power backs up legitimate power managers given chance to recommend raises ...
Any organizational member can attempt to exert influences over others with praise, flattery which are also rewards
Coercive Power
Coercive Power: power derived from the use of punishment and threat

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It is often a support for legitimate power managers may dock pay, block promotions ...
But coercive power not perfectly correlated with L/P
o Lower level members can also apply their share of coercion (work-to-rule campaigns sticking strictly to
organizational procedures, cohesive work groups)
When managers use coercive power generally ineffective and can provoke considerable
employee resistance
Referent Power
Referent Power: power derived from being well liked by others
We are prone to consider the POV, ignore the failures, and use people we like as role models
o Conflict with holding POVs that are discrepant from that held by someone we like
Referent power is especially potent for two reasons:
o Stems from identification with the powerholder
o Represents a truer base of power than reward / coercion which may stimulate mere
compliance to achieve rewards / avoid punishment
o Anyone in the organization may be well liked, irrespective of their base of power
o Referent power available to everyone from the janitor to the president
Friendly interpersonal relations often allow influence to extend across the company, outside
usual channels of legit authority, reward and coercion
o A product manager = friends with design engineer through a task force may later use this contact to ask for
a favour in solving a problem
Expert Power
Expert Power: power derived from having special information or expertise that is valued by an
We tend to be influenced by experts / those who perform their jobs well
The more crucial and unusual this expertise = the greater the expert power available
o Expert power corresponds to difficulty of replacement
o Highly published, internationally known professor = more expert power than lecturer
Expert power occurs when lower-level members accrue it
o Secretaries acquired E/P through long experience in dealing with clients, keeping
o Been around longer than those they serve so not unusual for bosses to create special
titles to reward their expertise and prevent resignation
Coercive Power
Reward Power
Expert Power
Legitimate Power
Referent Power
Moss Kanter: people can obtain power by doing the right things and cultivating the right people
Doing the Right Things
Some activities are ‘righter’ than others for obtaining power
Extraordinary Activities: one needs excellent performance in unusual or nonroutine activities such as
occupying new positions, managing substantial changes and taking great risks

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o A manager establishing and directing new customer service program, if successful the manager should
acquire substantial power
Visible Activities: extraordinary activities will fail to generate power if no one knows about them. People
who have an interest in power are especially good at identifying visible activities and publicizing them
o The successful marketing executive whose philosophy is profiled in Fortune will reap the benefits of power
Relevant Activities: Extraordinary, visible work may fail to generate power if no one cares. If nobody sees
the work as relevant to the solution of important organizational problems, it will not add to one’s
o An English professor who wins two Pulitzer Prizes = not accrue much power if his college is financially
strapped - he would not be seen as contributing to the solution to the problem vs being at another school
Cultivating the Right People
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
Developing informal relationships with the right people can prove useful to acquire power
Establishing good relationships with key people outside one’s organization can lead to increased power
within the organization
Sometimes this power is merely a reflection of the status of the outsider, but it may also add to one’s
internal influence holding power by association in a hospital setting for example
An individual can gain influence if they are closely identified with certain up-and-coming subordinates “I
taught them everything they know”
If the subordinate becomes better than the individual, having cultivated a relationship earlier may reward
the individual with special influence
Cultivating subordinate interests can also provide power when a manager can demonstrate that they are
backed by a cohesive team “My people won’t stand for it” shows there is strength in numbers
Cultivating good relationships with peers is mainly a means of ensuring that nothing gets in the way of
one’s future acquisition of power
Moving up the ranks, favours can be asked of former associates and fears of backstabbers for a past
misdeed are prevented
Companies often reward good ‘team players’ with promotions assuming they have demonstrated good
interpersonal skills
People often avoid contact with peers whose reputation is seen as questionable
Liaisons/associations with key superiors represent the best way of obtaining power through cultivating
others Such superiors are often called mentors or sponsors because of the special interest they show in
a promising subordinate
It is useful to be identified as a protégé of someone higher in the organization
Mentors can provide special information and useful introductions to other ‘right people’
Empowerment Putting Power Where it is Needed
Early organizational power idea: the people on the top had a lot of it and lower-levels had a little
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