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Chapter 10

BUS 272 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Ingratiation, Policy, Guanxi

Business Administration
Course Code
BUS 272
Graeme Coetzer

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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 someone’s 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 powerholder’s formal position/informal role – legitimate, reward, coercive
From powerholder’s 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 else’s
Increases the more tat the powerholder is trusted and makes fair decisions;
more obedience to authority, organizational culture
Reward power a person’s 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 individual’s or work unit’s 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

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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 one’s 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 w.in 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 don’t participate in male-dominated social
Consequences of Power
o Empowerment an individual’s 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 individual’s effectiveness or interpersonal relations
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