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Ch 8 - Power and Politics.docx

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University of British Columbia
COMM 292
Leah Sheppard

Power and Politics Chapter 8 A Definition of Power  Power – a capacity that A has to influence the behavior of B, so that B acts in accordance with A’s wishes o Potential for power if someone is dependent on another o One can have power and not impose it  Power is a function of dependency o The more dependent B is on A, the more power A has over B  In an organization, the IT department holds significant power because not everyone has knowledge in this area, and the IT dept. can be deemed irreplaceable. Bases of Power: Five category classification scheme of sources of power Coercive Power  Coercive power – power based on fear  Fear of the negative results if one fails to comply  Depends on the application or threat of application of physical sanctions o Infliction of pain o Generation of frustration (restriction of movement) o Controlling by force of basic psychological or safety needs  Exercised through reliance of physical strength, emotional support, or words  means to physically harm, bully or humiliate or dent love to others  Organizational level: dismiss, suspend, demote Reward Power  Reward power – achieves compliance based on the ability to distribute rewards that others view as valuable  Opposite of coercive power  Positive benefits  Org. context: money, performance appraisals, promotions, interesting work assignments, friendly colleagues, preferred work shifts or sales territories Legitimate Power  Legitimate power – power a person receives as a result of his or her position in the formal hierarchy of an org.  Based on structural position  Include coercive and reward powers  Includes acceptance by members of an org. of the authority of a position Expert Power  Expert power – influence based on special skills or knowledge  Based on expertise, special skills, or knowledge  One of the most powerful sources of influence as the world as become more technologically oriented  Doctor, computer specialists, accountants, economists  Relies on trust that all relevant info is given out honestly and completey  Some try to protect their power by withholding info Referent Power  Referent power – influence based on possession by an individual of desirable resources or personal traits  Develops out of admiration and a desire to be like that person  Ex. teachers and coaches  Explains why celebrities are paid so much to endorse products in commercials Information Power  Information power – power that comes from access to and control over information  Those who have data or knowledge that others need can make those others dependent on them Evaluating the Bases of Power: How people will respond when faced with those who use the bases of power  Commitment – enthusiastic about the request; shows initiative and persistence in carrying it out  Compliance – goes along with request grudgingly; puts in minimal effort; takes little initiative  Resistance – opposed to the request; tries to avoid it with such tactics: refusing, stalling, arguing  Coercive power  resistance from individuals, lower job satisfaction, increased mistrust  Reward power  compliance  Legitimate power  compliance, but no increased commitment (does not inspire individuals to act beyond basic level)  Expert and referent power  commitment  Least effective bases of power for improving commitment  coercive, reward, legitimate  most often used by managers  Deadline pressure  increased reliance on individuals with expert and information power Dependency: The Key to Power Dependency: The Key to Power The General Dependency Postulate  General postulate: The greater B’s dependency on A, the greater the power A has over B.  Who needs whom?  Person with most need = most dependent in relationship  Dependency  inversely proportional to the alternative sources of supply o If something is plentiful, power of possessing it = low o No special advantage  The more options your have  less power you place in the hands of others o Explains why businesses develop multiple suppliers What creates dependency? Dependency is increased when the resource you control is important, scarce and cannot be substituted. Importance o Thing you control must be perceived as important o Ex. people who control the budget of an org. o What is considered important is situational Scarcity o Makes those who don’t have it dependent on those who do o Ex. refuse to show others how to do a job, refuse to share info Non-substitutability o Fewer substitutes there are for a resource = more power comes from controlling that resource o Ex. labour unions o People are often able to ask for special rewards (higher pay or better assignments) because they have skills that others do not Influence Tactics Influence Tactics  Rational persuasion – using facts and data to make a logical or rational presentation of ideas  Inspirational appeals – appealing to values, ideals and goals  Consultation – getting others involved to support one’s objectives  Ingratiation – using flattery, creating goodwill, being friendly prior to making a request  Personal appeals – appealing to loyalty and friendship  Exchange – offering favors or benefits in exchange for support  Coalitions – getting the support of other people to provide backing when making a request  Pressure – demands, threats, and reminders to get someone to do something  Legitimacy – claiming the authority or right to make a request, or showing that it supports org. goals or policies  Most effective – rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, and consultation  Least effective – pressure (backfires)  Can increase influence if you combine two or more tactics that are compatible o Ingratiation and legitimacy  Depends on direction on influence: o Rational persuasion – only effective across org. levels o Inspiration – effective on downward movement (with subordinates) o Pressure – ONLY downward movement o Personal appeals & coalitions – lateral influence  Start with softer tactics (personal/inspirational appeals, rational persuasion, consultation)  harder tactics (exchange, coalitions, pressure) o Harder tactics – emphasize formal power and involve greater costs and risks  People differ in their political skill – the ability to influence others in such a way as to enhance one’s objectives o More effective in their use of tactics o More effective when the stakes are high o Able to exert their influence without others detecting it – key element in being effective Empowerment: Giving Power to Employees Empowerment: Giving Power to Employees Definition of Empowerment  Empowerment – freedom and the ability of employees to make decisions and commitments  Empowerment that starts at the top: specific goals and tasks would be assign
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