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MGHB02H3 (268)
Chapter 12

Organizational Behaviour - Chapter 12.docx

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Management (MGH)
Pascal Riendeau

Organizational Behaviour – Chapter 12 – Power, Politics, and Ethics What is Power? • Power – The capacity to influence others who are in a state of dependence • Power is the capacity to influence the behaviour of others • The fact that the target of power is dependent on the power holder does not imply that a poor relationship exists between the two Eg. Your best friend has power to influence your behaviour and attitudes because you are dependent on him/her for friendly reasons and you can exert reciprocal influence for similar reasons • Power can flow in any direction in an organization • Power is a broad concept that applies both to individuals and groups The 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/job • The other bases involve the control of important resources • Legitimate Power – Power derived from a person’s position or job in an organization • As we move up the organization’s hierarchy, we find that members possess more power • Organizations differ greatly in the extent to which they emphasize and reinforce legitimate power Eg. Military – many level of commands, uniforms, and rituals. The academic hierarchy of universities tends to downplay differences in the legitimate power of lecturers and deans. • When legitimate power works, it often does so because people have been socialized to accept its influence Eg. Parents, teachers, law enforcement • Reward Power – Power derived from the ability to provide positive outcomes and prevent negative outcomes • Reward power often backs up legitimate power Eg. Managers can recommend raises, assign preferred tasks to employees. Employees can give compliments and praise • Coercive Power – Power derived from the use of punishment and threat • This also supports legitimate power • Managers can dock pay, assign unfavourable tasks, or block promotions • It is generally ineffective and can provoke considerable employee resistance • Referent Power – Power derived from being well liked by others • Referent power is especially potent for two reasons: It stems from identification with the power holder and anyone in the organization may be well liked irrespective of his or her other bases of power • Friendly interpersonal relations often permit influence to extend across the organization, outside the usual channels of legitimate authority, reward, and coercion • Expert Power – Power derived from having special information or expertise that is valued by an organization • We tend to be influenced by experts or by those who perform their jobs well • Expertise is most consistently associated with employee effectiveness How Do People Obtain Power? • Rosabeth Kanter said that people get power through doing the right things and cultivating the right people • Doing the right things: Some activities are “righter” than others for obtaining power. Activities lead to power when they are extraordinary highly visible, and especially relevant to the solution of the organizational problems • Extraordinary activities: One needs excellent performance in unusual or non-routine activities, which include occupying new positions or taking risks. • Visible Activities: People who have an interest in power are especially good at identifying visible activities and publicizing them • Relevant Activities: Extraordinary, visible work may fail to generate power if no one cares, people need to see the work as relevant to the solution of important organizational problems • Cultivating the Right People: 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. Along with internal influence, cultivating outsiders may contribute to more tangible sources of power • Subordinates: An individual can gain influence if she/he is closely identified with certain up and coming subordinates. Having cultivated the relationship earlier, one might then be rewarded with special influence. • Peers: A good relationship with peers ensures that nothing gets in the way of one’s future acquisition of power. • Superiors: Liaisons with key superiors represent the best way of obtaining power through cultivating others. They 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. Empowerment – Putting Power Where it is Needed • Empowerment – Giving people the authority, opportunity, and motivation to take initiative and solve organizational problems • Having authority to solve an organization problem means having legitimate power • Having opportunity usually means freedom from bureaucratic barriers and includes any relevant training and information about the impact of one’s actions on other parts of the organization • Motivation suggests hiring people who will be intrinsically motivated by power and opportunity and aligning extrinsic rewards with successful performance • People who are empowered have a strong sense of self-efficacy – feeling that they are capable of doing their jobs well and “making things happen” • Empowerment fosters job satisfaction, organizational commitment, organization citizenship behaviours, and high performance • However, it does not mean providing employees with a max amount of unfettered power • Empowerment puts power where it is needed to make the organization effective Influence Tactics – Putting Power to Work • Influence Tactics – Tactics that are used to convert power into actual influence over others • These tactics include the following: assertiveness (ordering/nagging), ingratiation (flattery/friendly), rationality (logic), exchange (doing favours), upward appeal (formal/informal appeals for intervention), and coalition formation (seeking united support from members) • Bases of power determine which influence tactics you might use • Influence tactics are also dependent on whom you’re trying to influence • For men, using rationality as an influence tactic was associated with receiving better performance evaluations, earning more money, and experiencing less work stress • Women who used ingratiation as an influence tactic received the heist performance evaluation Who Wants Power? • The answer would seem to be everybody, but some people consider power as a manifestation of evil due to the historic image of power seekers • Some power seekers feel weak and resort primarily to coercive power to cover up, compensate for, or substitute for this weakness Eg. Hitler • David McClelland believes that one can use power responsibly to influence others (n Pow) • Most effective managers: Have high n Pow, use their power to achieve organizational goals, adopt a participative or “coaching” leadership style and are relatively unconcerned with how much others like them • These managers are called institutional managers since they use their power for the good of the institution rather than for themselves Controlling Strategic Contingencies – How Subunits Obtain Power • Subunit Power – The degree of power held by various organizational subunits such as departments
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