Chapter 12 – Power, Politics, and Ethics
What is Power?
• Power – the capacity to influence others who are in a state of dependence
• Power is not always perceived or exercised
• The target of power is dependent on the powerholder does not imply that a poor relationship
exists between the two
• Power can flow in any direction in an organization
• Power is a broad concept that applies to both individuals and groups
The (5) Bases of Individual Power
• Power can be found in the position that you occupy in the organization or the resources that
you are able to command. The first base of power – legitimate power – is dependent on one’s
position or job. The other bases (reward, coercive, referent, and expert power) involve the
control of important resources.
• Legitimate Power – power derived from a person’s position or job in an organization [An
organizations hierarchy displays members who possess more and more legitimate power]
• Reward Power – power derived from the ability to provide position outcomes and prevent
negative outcomes [Managers are given the chance to recommend raises, do performance
evaluations, and assign preferred task to employees]
• Coercive power – power derived from the use of punishment and threat [Managers might be
permitted to dock pay, assign unfavourable tasks, or block promotions]
• Referent Power – power derived from being well liked by others [People we like readily
• Expert Power – power derived from having special information or expertise that is valued by
an organization [A business school that has only highly published professor who is
internationally known scholar and past federal cabinet minister]
How Do People Obtain Power?
Doing the right things
• According to Kanter, some activies are “righter” than others for obtaining power
• Extraordinary activities – what one needs is excellence performance in unusual or non-
• Visible activities – people who have an interest in power are especially good at identifying
visible activities and publicizing them
• Relevant activities – if nobody sees work as relevant to the solution of important
organizational problems, it will not add to one’s influence.
Cultivating the Right People
• It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Kanter explains that developing informal
relationships with the right people can prove a useful means of acquiring power.
• Outsiders – establishing good relationships with key people outside one’s organization can
lead to increased power within the organization.
• Subordinates – an individual can gain influence if she is closely identified with certain up and
• Peers – cultivating good relationships with peers is mainly a means of ensuring that nothing
gets in the way of one’s future acquisition of power. • Superiors – liaisons with key superiors probably represent the best way of obtaining power
through cultivating others
Empowerment – Putting Power Where It Is Needed
• Empowerment – giving people the authority, opportunity, and motivation to take initiative and
solve organizational problems
• The motivation part of the empowerment equation suggests hiring people who will be
intrinsically motivated by power and opportunity and aligning extrinsic rewards with
• People who are empowered have a strong sense of self-efficacy, the feeling that they are
capable of doing their jobs well and making things happen.
Influence Tactics – Putting Power to Work
• Influence tactics – tactics that are used to convert power into actual influence over others
• Assertiveness – ordering, nagging, setting deadlines, and verbally confronting
• Ingratiation – using flattery and acting friendly, polite, or humble
• Rationality – using logic, reason, planning, and compromise
• Exchange – doing favours or offering to trade favours
• Upward appeal – making formal or informal appeals to organizati