Diese Präsentation wurde erfolgreich gemeldet.
Wir verwenden Ihre LinkedIn Profilangaben und Informationen zu Ihren Aktivitäten, um Anzeigen zu personalisieren und Ihnen relevantere Inhalte anzuzeigen. Sie können Ihre Anzeigeneinstellungen jederzeit ändern.

Power and politics in organization

3.791 Aufrufe

Veröffentlicht am

A presentation on how managers acquire and use power in organisations and the impact of both power and politics in such organisations

Veröffentlicht in: Leadership & Management
  • Als Erste(r) kommentieren

Power and politics in organization

  1. 1. POWER AND POLITICS IN ORGANIZATIONS Introduction Power is an essential element for exercising leadership. In organizations, managers can use power to influence their subordinates and to obtain the resources they need to accomplish tasks in order to achieve organizational objectives. Likewise, employees use power as a means of survival in organizations. Power in this case means some control over their work environment. While both power and politics are important elements in most undertakings, they are also considered to be dangerous because they are associated with undesirable human actions such as corruption, domination, exploitation, political scandals, and suppression. The Nature of Power and Politics Power and politics are the major determinants of organizational behaviour. The organizational process is usually a political process in which power holders influence goals and directions. In order to understand the dynamics of power in organizations, it is important to understand the concept of power as it relates to authority, politics, organizational controls, and leadership. Power and authority Power is the ability to make other people do something. Authority is the right to ask other people to do something. A manager may have authority to demand high performance from his subordinates but lack the ability to carry out this right since he or she lacks power to induce or to force them to work; thus, goals cannot be achieved. On the other hand, an informal leader does not have the formal authority to demand high performance from co-workers, but he can have some power to demand high performance to influence them to produce. Managerial effectiveness increases only when the manager possesses both authority and power. Authority is vested in a position while power is a personal trait or quality. For example, two people may hold positions at the same level with the same amount of authority but they may differ in their exercise of power. Hence, power is associated with leadership, while authority is associated with managership. A manager has a right to demand behavioural compliance from other people within a specified legitimate boundary. People comply with a managerial authority as a duty. On the other hand, while a leader may not have the legal right to do so, he may exert undue influence on other people by creating dependency relationship. When a person depends on another for something, the latter can exert power over the former. Power and politics Organizations exist for various reasons. From an economic standpoint, they exist to create surplus value over costs. From an individual standpoint, they are political instruments by which individuals pursue their personal interests. The pursuit of individual goals, particularly at high
  2. 2. managerial and professional levels, depends on how much power has been accumulated and can influence organizational decision to enhance and protect one's own interests. Since organizations have a pyramid-like structure, powerful positions become fewer as one moves up the organizational hierarchy. This, added to the scarcity of economic resources, forces people to compete for power in organizations. Failure to acquire power, or form political coalitions, can result in personal and managerial failure. When people compete for power, regardless of the prevailing circumstances, they play politics. Politics are those activities intended to increase one's power. In organizations, managers may form coalitions to serve and protect their own interests or control information flow to help or hinder other people. However, not all activities that increase power can be considered to be political. A person gaining experience or expertise is said to be increasing his own power, yet this is not politics. Politics usually involves intentional acts of influencing other people for the purpose of enhancing or protecting the self-interests of individuals or groups. Politics and organizational controls The need for politics or power tactics is more evident in organizations where tasks are loosely structured and where the number of hierarchical controls is low. Where there are set targets, rules on resource allocation or code of conduct, people tend to resort to politics in order to gain power and more resources for themselves. If the management wants to minimize the amount of office politics in the organization, it has to structure organizational tasks and increase hierarchical controls. This can be done by defining rules and performance measurements so as to guide the behaviour of the organizational members. Power and leadership The core of leadership is power. As mentioned earlier, power is the ability to influence other people in one's favour. A manager may exercise formal authority to produce voluntarily, or non-voluntarily to get compliance from subordinates, but a leader relies on the informal power in the form of persuasion and inducement to generate voluntary support. Powerful managers are more likely to delegate and share their authority with subordinates, reward their subordinates' accomplishments, and promote teamwork which enhances the power over subordinates. However, powerless managers tend to be bossy instead of relying on voluntary cooperation of subordinates. Characteristics of Power Certain characteristics of power influence the behaviour of the power users: dependency relationship, power expansion, and paradox of power.
  3. 3. Dependency relationships People in authority gain power over others because these people depend on those in authority for something. In organizations, managers have power over employees because employees depend on them for organizational rewards. This dependency is not one-sided because employees also have some power over their superiors who have to depend on them (their subordinates) for productivity, cooperation, and emotional support. Power expansion People in power have the freedom to make decisions, and can do various things, good or bad, unlike their less powerful peers. This means the more powerful a person is, the wider the range of behavioural options. Since they cause other people to respond positively to their wishes, they feel secure in taking risks. However, as the power increases, there are more chances and temptations to abuse power. Dependent people do not challenge the power abuser for fear of reprisal or because they may not have the means to challenge the despot. A good example can be seen where dictators increase their positive as well as negative behavioural options by making other people increasingly dependent on them for survival, while reducing their dependency on other people. Paradox of power In order to acquire power, one has to have the desire for power and be in a position where it can be exercised. The more power a manager attempts to exert over other people, the less power he actually has. That is, one person's effort to increase power is often perceived as a reduction in another person's power. The perceived threat produces conflict and resistance, which works against power expansion and the net result is that both parties lose the power to influence each other. On the other hand, a manager can increase power by sharing it with subordinates. A person who receives something from another person usually wants to give something in return, the net result being that both parties increase the amount of influence they can exert on each other. Sources of Power Most managers have power but some have more power than others. Managers who can satisfy the needs of others or who can deprive need satisfaction can exert more influence than those who cannot. Subordinates become dependent on certain managers because they depend on them for some services or favours. The perceived ability to give or withhold favours is a source of power. A manager can derive power from position, reward, coercion expertise, charisma, and association. Position power Position power is derived from the office that a person occupies. The formal authority granted to an office does not constitute actual power, but the person can derive power from the office. This is because people are culturally conditioned to accept the authority of managers. They therefore
  4. 4. believe that their superiors have the right to lead them. Secondly, by virtue of their positions, managers have control over the distribution of the organizational rewards and punishments. Some may not have direct control, but they can influence the distribution process by having access to the power centre. Reward power The ability to grant or withhold rewards is a major source of power. Anyone who has or controls resources that are of value can exert power over the beneficiaries. Managers can gain reward power by being in managerial positions that control organizational resources. Coercive power This is the ability to force other people to act against their wishes. The ability to coerce is derived from the fear of punishment. Hence, people may comply with the power agent because they are afraid of losing their jobs or being rejected or deprived of desired rewards. Coercive power usually produces immediate responses from the target group. There are two types of coercive power: legitimate and illegitimate. The legitimate use of coercive power can increase a manager's credibility and respect. For example, when managers do not use the coercive power against unproductive or inefficient persons, they tend to lose control and the respect of subordinates. On the other hand, the manager who illegally dismisses or reprimands employees because of personal grudges becomes unpopular. Expert power People with expert knowledge and information that other people need can exert substantial power in organizations. Managers can generally exercise expert power because they have more job experience and knowledge than their subordinates. Subordinates who have expert knowledge and skills can exert power over their superiors, with the superiors becoming dependent. Charismatic power This is derived from one's special personal qualities such as public speaking ability, interpersonal style, or high moral standards. Such qualities tend to attract other people who would hence want to be identified with such a charismatic leader. Charismatic individuals may have no position power, but would have the ability to satisfy other people's needs for identification, approval, or emotional support. Personal attraction elicits imitative behaviours from followers. People are attracted to the charismatic person so strongly that they want to be like that person, and therefore imitate his behaviour. Charismatic people are usually successful in their professions and have a dynamic lifestyle that is envied by others. However, not all successful people have referent or charismatic power. In order to be considered as charismatic, one must have a style or flair that is unusual and pleasing.
  5. 5. Association power Some people acquire power by being associated with someone who has power. They may have little position power, expert power, or personal attraction, but may exert power because they have direct access to the power source or they can influence the people with power. For example, a secretary can have association power because she is situated close to the boss and can exert influence in favour of her friends. Association is an important source of power and it is commonly used in organizations. Being associated with power sources is a power in itself. Due to the complexity of organizational relationships and informal webs, many people find it difficult to gain access to the power sources. Even when they know the source of the power, they have to go through formal communication channels and time consuming bureaucracies to get at it. By knowing someone close to the power agent, they can cut through the complex organizational webs and rituals. not have direct control, but they can influence the distribution process by having access to the power centre. Reward power The ability to grant or withhold rewards is a major source of power. Anyone who has or controls resources that are of value can exert power over the beneficiaries. Managers can gain reward power by being in managerial positions that control organizational resources. Coercive power This is the ability to force other people to act against their wishes. The ability to coerce is derived from the fear of punishment. Hence, people may comply with the power agent because they are afraid of losing their jobs or being rejected or deprived of desired rewards. Coercive power usually produces immediate responses from the target group. There are two types of coercive power: legitimate and illegitimate. The legitimate use of coercive power can increase a manager's credibility and respect. For example, when managers do not use the coercive power against unproductive or inefficient persons, they tend to lose control and the respect of subordinates. On the other hand, the manager who illegally dismisses or reprimands employees because of personal grudges becomes unpopular. Expert power People with expert knowledge and information that other people need can exert substantial power in organizations. Managers can generally exercise expert power because they have more job experience and knowledge than their subordinates. Subordinates who have expert knowledge and skills can exert power over their superiors, with the superiors becoming dependent. Charismatic power This is derived from one's special personal qualities such as public speaking ability, interpersonal style, or high moral standards. Such qualities tend to attract other people who would hence want to be identified with such a charismatic leader. Charismatic individuals may have no position
  6. 6. power, but would have the ability to satisfy other people's needs for identification, approval, or emotional support. Personal attraction elicits imitative behaviours from followers. People are attracted to the charismatic person so strongly that they want to be like that person, and therefore imitate his behaviour. Charismatic people are usually successful in their professions and have a dynamic lifestyle that is envied by others. However, not all successful people have referent or charismatic power. In order to be considered as charismatic, one must have a style or flair that is unusual and pleasing. Association power Some people acquire power by being associated with someone who has power. They may have little position power, expert power, or personal attraction, but may exert power because they have direct access to the power source or they can influence the people with power. For example, a secretary can have association power because she is situated close to the boss and can exert influence in favour of her friends. Association is an important source of power and it is commonly used in organizations. Being associated with power sources is a power in itself. Due to the complexity of organizational relationships and informal webs, many people find it difficult to gain access to the power sources. Even when they know the source of the power, they have to go through formal communication channels and time consuming bureaucracies to get at it. By knowing someone close to the power agent, they can cut through the complex organizational webs and rituals. Table 7.1 gives a summary of the characteristics of the different types of power. Table 7.1 Characteristics of power base
  7. 7. Types of Power Behaviours Advantages Disadvantages Position Makes decisions and demands compliances Quick, reliable and cost free Some people may resent it. Not set well with professional Reward Gives and withdraws resources for compliance Quick and reliable Can be very costly Coercive Punishes or uses threats to deal with non-compliance Quick, reliable and can be used when other powers fail Invites retaliation destroys relationships and does not produce permanent change Expert Provides expertise to others Quick, reliable and no costs involved Some may resent their dependency on experts Charismatic Maintains attractive personal qualities No costs involved and intrinsically motivating No tangible rewards Association Uses personal connections with powerful persons to influence other people No costs involved Increased dependency on the power source, reduced the “users independence” Political Tactics Managers use various power tactics to serve and protect their own interests in organizations — political tactics. Among the most commonly used tactics are attacking or blaming others, controlling information, developing a base of support, forming political coalition, managing impression, and empire building. Attacking or blaming others This tactic, though unethical, is frequently used in almost all types of organizations. It involves two approaches: reactive approach and proactive approach. Reactive behaviour centres around scapegoating. Proactive tactics are far more personal and are generally aimed at reducing competition for scarce resources or rewards. These behaviours involve making the rival look bad in the eyes of the influential organizational members. The political actor may blame the rival for failure, or degrade the accomplishments of the rival. A reactive tactic is intended to protect self-interest, while a pro-active tactic is intended to promote it.
  8. 8. Controlling information This method is used to obscure an important issue that can be politically damaging. A manager may control the information flow so that other people can rely on him for information dissemination. Developing a base of support High level managers spend a lot of time and effort communicating ideas to others before final decisions are made, as well as building a support base before a meeting is called, and having other people contribute their ideas in order to ensure their commitment. Forming political coalitions Most managers find it convenient to speak well of some people thereby establishing good rapport with them. Other tactics involve developing strong ties with allies and associating with influential persons in and out of the organization. These coalitions are developed to establish exchange relationships among groups, accommodate each other's needs and expectations, provide each other with special favours and privileges, and enhance in-group relationships. Managing impressions This is a predominantly pro-active behaviour designed to promote self- interest. Image building is a common approach in this tactic and relies on general appearance, self-grooming, adhering to organizational norms, associating with success, and being a part of important activities. Another approach is to build a reputation as being likeable, enthusiastic, honest, and thoughtful. These traits are desired by influential individuals in an organization because they are highly important in case of promotion considerations. Empire building Most managers try to gather as much authority as possible. This often happens when managers view themselves as indispensable decision makers whom the organization depends on. They therefore get involved in as many activities as they can and attempt to influence organizational decisions by filling the gaps created by other managers who avoid responsibility or by increasing the size of their office and number of subordinates. Acquisition and Effective Use of Power Influential managers tend to acquire and use all types of power. They are seen to acquire a good understanding of various power types and to use them effectively. By observing the behaviour of successful managers, one can learn the skills of acquiring, exercising, and maintaining power. This requires behaviour modelling. Basic motivational patterns These are personality factors which distinguish those managers who can successfully use power
  9. 9. from those who cannot. Thus: (a) Most influential managers tend to have a strong power motive. They see management as a power game by which they can influence other people in achieving their own personal and task- related goals. They are careful not to be authoritarian leaders; they share their authority and power with subordinates to make them feel powerful. (b) Influential managers are a little motivated by affiliation needs. Affiliation-motivated managers have urgent need for fellowship than for power or achievement. When managers play favourite to the benefit of a select few they often alienate other employees. So while managers must be sensitive to the needs of the employees, they should also not make decisions on the basis of whether employees will like them or not. (c) They are motivated by the socialized power motive. Most successful managers are motivated by a desire to influence the behaviour of others for the good of the organization and its members. This is called socialized power. An organizational climate is created in which members of the organization have responsibility, organizational clarity, and team spirit. (d) Influential leaders also aim at being emotionally stable and well- adjusted. For example, a peaceful environment at home may help successful managers devote their energies to the attainment of organizational goals. Acquisition of power (i) Influential managers strive to acquire and use all types of power. This follows from the belief that any power can be used under certain circumstances to produce positive results with few negative consequences. In most cases, one starts by acquiring expert power, then seeking position, reward, and coercive power. (ii) Managers also use power to acquire more power. The tendency is to invest personal resources and power in ventures that might produce more power for the manager. For example, one will do favours for those who might feel obligated in return. Such managers or individuals often undertake major organizational activities that are clearly visible in order to demonstrate their abilities and gain recognition. They can even change the organizational structure so that their own people are put in positions where they can protect their interests. (iii) They also carefully plan their upward movement in organizations. They do not get to the positions where they are by chance or luck, but look for jobs that require their qualifications and move ahead to the managerial positions where they can exert power and make other people depend on them. Their moves are carefully planned and executed; they minimize errors and failure, so their success reinforces their drive to move ahead and gain. These are people who avoid any undertaking that has a high possibility of failure. (iv) Influential managers establish coalition with others. An individual can only gain power when others are willing to comply with his wishes. For example, employees will only comply with the manager's wishes if they believe that the manager can satisfy their own needs. Important coalitions involve superiors, subordinates, peers and influential
  10. 10. persons outside their organizations. Exercising power Some people acquire power, but are not able to maintain it because they do not exercise it effectively. Hence influential managers: · Feel comfortable using power; thus they should recognize and accept the importance of power in managing people. Power should be used as a tool with which one can get the necessary resources and cooperation from others. · Intuitively understand various types of power. They should therefore understand the strengths and limitations of various power resources and recognize the specific situations in which a particular power can be acquired and used effectively. · Are sensitive to the legitimacy of power usage. Managers should use power cautiously and with self-control. They should recognize the importance of the image they project to others in and out of their organizations. They should not promise more than they can deliver. · Have a tendency to unnecessarily depend on others for their own personal interests. They should instead actively try to satisfy the needs of those they depend on because they create a sense of obligation that they can collect later on. They should not ask for favours when not necessary. Legitimizing the use of Power Managers can legitimize their use of power in the following ways: (a) Use performance criteria selectively — Managers can strengthen their positions by adopting performance criteria selectively. (b) Use a legitimate decision procedure — Committees are often used to legitimize the decision-making process. The use of committees spreads the responsibility for the decision or the use of power on all participants. This is desirable when the use of power involves unpopular actions. The use of committees increases the likelihood that the use of power will be accepted. (c) Use participative decision process — When employees are involved in the decision-making process they are more likely to accept and comply with the wishes of their supervisors. (d) Control the information flow— Information is an important source of power because people need it to do their jobs. Individuals who control the information flow exert power over those who depend on them for information. Managers can strategically control the information flow and its content to enhance their power in the organization. They can disseminate favourable information while minimizing the impact of unfavourable information.

×