Chapter 12 Power, Politics, and Ethics
1. What is Power?
Power: The capacity to influence others who are in a state of dependence.
----Power is not always perceived or exercised. It is a capacity.
----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. (High level to low level, or even reverse)
----Power is a broad concept that applies to both individuals and groups.
2. The bases of individual power:
Legitimate power: Power derived from a person’s position or job in an organization.
----It constitutes the organization’s judgment about who is formally permitted to influence whom,
and it is called authority. (Organization’s hierarchy)
----Legitimate power works because people have been socialized to accept the readiness to submit
to legitimate power.
Reward power: Power derived from the ability to provide positive outcomes and prevent
----Reward power often backs up legitimate power.
----Managers are given the chance to recommend raises, do performance evaluations and assign
preferred tasks to employees.
Coercive power: Power derived from the use of punishment and threat.
----Coercive power often support for legitimate power.
----Coercive power is generally ineffective and can provoke considerable employee resistance.
Referent power: Power derived from being well liked by others.
----It is potent because it stems from identification with the powerholder. Thus, it represents a truer
or deeper base of power. (Charismatic leaders)
----Anyone in the organization may be well liked, irrespective of his or her other bases of power.
Thus, referent power is available to everyone.
Expert power: Power derived from having special information or expertise that is valued by
----Expert power corresponds to difficulty of replacement.
----Expert power is especially common among lower-level members. When lower-level
organizational members accrue expert power (secretaries who has long experience in dealing with
clients), boss usually creates special titles to reward their expertise and prevent their resignation.
----Expert power is most consistently associated with employee effectiveness. Women managers
are more likely to be high in expert power.
Exhibit 12.1: employee responses to various bases of managerial power. (bases of leader power &
Continuum of employee cooperation)
Coercion is likely to produce resistance and lack of cooperation. Legitimate power and reward
power are likely too produce compliance with the boss’s wishes. Referent and expert power are
most likely to generate true commitment and enthusiasm for the manager’s agenda.
3. How do people obtain power: Do the right things, and cultivate the right people
Doing the right things:
Extraordinary activities: Excellent performance in unusual or nonroutine activities.
(Occupying new positions, managing substantial changes, and taking great risks)
Visible activities: Extraordinary activities will fail to generate power if no one knows about
them. Identify and publicize activities is important.
Relevant activities: Extraordinary, visible work may fail to generate power if no one cares. If
nobody sees the work as relevant to the solution of important organizational problems, it will
not add to one’s influence.
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. Cultivating outsiders may also contribute to more
tangible sources of power.
Subordinates: An individual can gain influence if she is closely identified with certain up-and-
----Cultivating subordinate interests can also provide power when a manager can demonstrate that
he or she is backed by a cohesive team
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. (As one moves up through the ranks,
favors can be asked of former associates)
----People often avoid contact with peers whose reputation is seen as questionable.
Superiors: mentors or sponsors because of the special interest they show in a promising
subordinate. Mentors can provide special information and useful introductions to other “right
4. Empowerment-putting power where it is needed
Empowerment: Giving people the authority, opportunity, and motivation to take initiative and
solve organizational problems.
----In practice, having the authority to solve an organizational problem means having legitimate
power. (The boss delegate it to a subordinate)
----Having opportunity usually means freedom from bureaucratic barriers and other system
problems that block initiative.
----Empowerment equation suggests hiring people who will be intrinsically motivated by power
and opportunity and aligning extrinsic rewards with successful performance.
----Transformational leaders who compress confidence in subordinates’ abilities can contribute to
----People who are empowered have a strong sense of self-efficacy, the feeling that they are
capable of doing their jobs well.
----Empowerment fosters job satisfaction and high performance. Empowerment puts power where
it is needed to make the organization effective. It depends on organizational strategy and customer
expectations. Those predicated on customized, personalized service need more empowered
Exhibit 12.2: People are empowered, and should exhibit effective performance when they have
sufficient power to carry out their jobs.
Power: the capacity to influence others who are in a state of dependence. ---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. (high level to low level, or even reverse) ---power is a broad concept that applies to both individuals and groups: the bases of individual power: legitimate power: power derived from a person"s position or job in an organization. ---it constitutes the organization"s judgment about who is formally permitted to influence whom, and it is called authority. (organization"s hierarchy) ---legitimate power works because people have been socialized to accept the readiness to submit to legitimate power. reward power: power derived from the ability to provide positive outcomes and prevent negative outcomes. ---managers are given the chance to recommend raises, do performance evaluations and assign preferred tasks to employees.