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Chapter 10

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Simon Fraser University
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 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 authority  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  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 events  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  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 someone’s 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 requester’s legitimate power and target person’s 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 target’s work, confronting target, using threats to force compliance  Typically applies or threatens to apply punishment if target doesn’t comply  Information Control – explicitly manipulating someone else’s 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 executi
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