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Power and politics

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  • 1. POWER AND POLITICS
  • 2. POWER AND POLITICS
    • Organizations are highly political and power is the name of the game.
    • Power and politics must be recognised as an important dynamic in organizational behaviour
    • ‘ Power’ is defined by Max Weber as “the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in position to carry out his own will despite resistance.”
    • Power is the ability to influence flows of the available energy and resources towards certain goals as opposed to other goals.
  • 3.
    • Power is assumed to be exercised only when these goals are at least partially in conflict with each other.
    • Power implies
      • A ‘potential’ that need not be actualised to be effective
      • A dependence relationship, and
      • Some ‘discretion’ over his behaviour
    • Power is obviously associated with Authority and Influence
    • ‘ Influence’ is used in describing power.
    • Power is also defined as ‘Informal Authority’
    • Authority has been defined as ‘Legitimate Power’
  • 4.
    • Power motive defined as need to manipulate others and have superiority over them.
    • Authority legitimizes and is a source of power. Authority is right to manipulate or change others.
    • Power need not be legitimate
    • (Barnard): “Authority as character of a communication (Order) in formal organization by which it is accepted by member of organization as governing the action he contributes”
    • What legitimises authority is promotion/ pursuit of collective goals associated with group consensus. Whereas, power is pursuit of individual or particularistic goals associated with group compliance.
  • 5.
    • Influence involves ability to alter other people in general ways by changing their satisfaction and performance.
    • Influence is more closely associated with leadership than power is but both are involved in leadership process.
    • Authority is different from power because of its legitimacy and acceptance.
    • Because power is not well understood, it is often extremely subtle or obscure, springs from multiple sources, is highly dynamic, has multiple causes and effects, is multidimensional and difficult to quantify.
    • In understanding organizational behaviour, power’s link to organizational politics needs to be understood.
  • 6. ROLE & RELATIONSHIP OF ORGANIZATIONAL POLITICS
    • Politics refers to structure and process of use of authority and power to effect definitions of goals, directions and other parameters of organization.
    • “ Management of influence to obtain ends not sanctioned by organization or to obtain sanctioned ends through non-sanctioned influence means.”
    • “ Organizational politics is any behaviour by an organizational member that is self-serving.”
    • organizational politics is important dynamic of organizational behaviour in relation to acquisition of power.
    • Politics does not mean shirking work, apple polishing or joining the right club; nor is it legitimate excuse for not getting ahead.
  • 7.
    • These are part of politics, but politics is a much more general phenomenon involving distribution of power and strategies for obtaining and retaining it.
    • Politics is always concerned with power.
    • John French and Bertram Raven have identified five categories of sources of power:
      • Reward power
      • Coercive power
      • Legitimate power
      • Referent power
      • Expert power
  • 8. REWARD POWER
    • Depends upon person’s ability and resources to reward others.
    • Target of this power must value these rewards.
    • In organization, managers have many potential rewards, e.g., pay increase, promotions, favourable work assignments, more responsibility, new equipment, praise, feedback, recognition, etc.
  • 9. REWARD POWER
    • Manager has power to enforce positive reinforcement.
    • However, recipient holds the key. If they do not value the reward, then managers do not really have reward power.
    • If manager does not think he is giving reward (listening) but subordinates perceive this as rewarding, then manager has reward power.
    • Also managers may not really have rewards to dispense but as long as their people think they have it, they do indeed have it.
  • 10. COERCIVE POWER
    • This source of power depends on fear.
    • People with coercive power have ability to inflict punishment or aversive sequences on other person or make threats about punishment.
    • It has negative connotation and most commonly thought in terms of physical force.
  • 11. COERCIVE POWER
    • Individuals exercise coercive power through reliance upon physical strength, verbal facility or ability to grant or withhold emotional support from others.
    • This power to hold others is often used, most often condemned and most difficult to control.
    • In expectancy terms this power comes from expectation of others that they will be punished if they do not conform to powerful person’s desires, follow rules, directives or policies of organization.
    • Much organizational behaviour could be explained in terms of coercive power than reward power.
  • 12. LEGITIMATE POWER
    • This power source stems from internalized values of other persons giving legitimate right to agent to influence them.
    • Others feel the obligation to accept this power; it is identical to authority and closely aligned with reward and coercive power.
    • It does not depend on relationship with others; rather on position or role the person holds.
  • 13. LEGITIMATE POWER
    • Legitimate power can come from three major sources-
      • The prevailing cultural values of a society, organization or group
      • Accepted social structure
      • Being designated as agent or representative of powerful person or group.
    • Each of these forms of legitimate power creates an obligation to accept and be influenced.
  • 14. REFERENT POWER
    • This power comes from desire on part of other person to identify with agent wielding power.
    • Others grant this power because he is attractive and has desirable resources or personal characteristics, e.g., advertisers use celebrities, movie stars, sports figures the buying public identifies with. Timing is an interesting aspect of this.
    • In organizational context, managers with referent power must be attractive to subordinates.
  • 15. EXPERT POWER
    • Based on extent others attribute knowledge and expertise to power seeker.
    • Experts are perceived to have knowledge or understanding in certain well-defined areas.
    • All sources depend on target’s perceptions of agent to be credible, trustworthy and relevant.
    • Credibility comes from having right credentials and display of tangible evidence of knowledge.
  • 16. EXPERT POWER
    • In organizations, staff specialists have expert power in their functional areas but not outside.
    • Expert power is highly selective and besides credibility, agent must have trustworthiness and relevance.
    • Also the person must have relevance and usefulness to have expert power.
    • Expertise is the most tenuous type of power.
    • As organizations become more and more technologically complex and specialised , expert power of members at all levels becomes more important.
  • 17. COMPARISON
    • “ Coercive power induces greater resistance than reward power”
    • “ Users of reward power are liked better than those depending on coercive power”
    • “ Changes in one power source can affect the other sources”
    • “ Of more direct relevance to organizational behaviour are bases of a manager’s power or control to satisfaction and performance.”
  • 18. COMPARISON
    • Expert power is most strongly and consistently correlated with satisfaction and performance
    • Legitimate power, along with expert power, is most important basis for complying with a supervisor’s wishes but is an inconsistent factor in organizational effectiveness
    • Referent power is given intermediate importance but it is positively correlated with organizational effectiveness
    • Reward power is also of intermediate importance for complying but has inconsistent correlations with performance.
    • Coercive power is the least prominent for complying and is actually negatively related to organizational effectiveness.
  • 19. COMPARISON
    • In relation to management of people at work and relating to employee satisfaction and performance, following are important:-
    • Expert power is closely related to a climate of trust and manager’s influence is internalised by subordinate and he has attitude conformity. Expert power is fairly impersonal and concerned with task performance.
    • Legitimate power can be dependent on initially but continued reliance may create problems as follows:-
      • It can aggravate feelings of powerlessness and create dissatisfaction, resistance and frustration among employees.
      • If not conjoined with knowledge power, there may be ineffective utilization of human resources with negative effect of productivity.
      • May be inconsistent with work-life values of meaningful involvement and participation in organizational affairs.
      • Dependence on it leads to only minimum compliance and simultaneously increases resistance.
  • 20. COMPARISON
    • Referent power is emotional in nature and leads to unquestioning, enthusiastic trust, compliance, loyalty and commitment from subordinates. It could lead to highly personal, selfish gains and to manipulation of subordinates.
    • Reward power influences the performance behaviour of employees and reinforcement. Limitations of this power are:-
      • Tangible rewards such as pay and promotions are in short supply.
      • They have short run impact.
      • Rewards may not be valued by employees
      • Use of rewards can lead to dependent relationship and subordinates feel manipulated and become dissatisfied.
    • Coercive power, though it results in temporary compliance by subordinates, it produces side-effects like frustration, fear, revenge and alienation. In turn may lead to poor performance, dissatisfaction and turnover.
  • 21.
    • “ The non-formal bases of power (Expert and Referent) impact most favourably on organizational effectiveness.”
    • “ Power is a two-way street. The influence target is an important variable in power relationship.”
    • “ The characteristics of influence targets (influentiality) have important moderating impact on types of power that can be successfully used.”
    • Power involves a reciprocal relationship between agent and target. The characteristics identified as being important to influenceability or targets are:
      • Dependency
      • Uncertainty
      • Personality
      • Intelligence
      • Age
      • Culture
  • 22. POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF POWER
    • Classical organization theory portrays organization as highly rational structure in which authority meticulously follows chain of command in which managers have legitimatized power.
    • Whereas informal managerial roles and organization portrays more realistic view of organizations.
    • Under this realistic view of organizations, the importance of political aspects of power comes to forefront.
    • Political power game is very real in today’s organizations.
    • Like other aspects of organizational dynamics, politics is not a simple process; it can vary from organization to organization and also from one sub unit to another.
  • 23. POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF POWER
    • Walter Nord has pointed out some realities of political power. He suggests four postulates of power in organizations focussing on political realities.
      • Organizations are composed of coalitions which compete with one another for resources, energy and influence.
      • Various coalitions will seek to protect their interests and positions of influence by moderating environmental pressures and their effects.
      • The unequal distribution of power itself has dehumanizing effect.
      • The exercise of power within organizations is one very crucial aspect of exercise of power within larger social system.
  • 24.
    • Organizational politics has identified several areas particularly relevant to the degree to which organizations are political rather than rational. These areas are:-
    • Resources- there is direct relationship between amount of politics and how critical and scarce resources are. Also, politics gets activated when there is infusion of new or ‘unclaimed’ resources.
    • Decisions- ambiguous decisions, decisions on which there is lack of agreement and uncertain, long-range strategic decisions lead to more politics than routine decisions.
  • 25.
    • Goals- the more ambiguous and complex the goals become, the more politics there will be.
    • Technology and External environment- more complex the internal technology of the organization, the more politics there will be. Same is also true of organizations operating in turbulent external environment.
    • Change- planned organizational development effort or a reorganization or even an unplanned change brought about by external forces will encourage political manoeuvring.
  • 26.
    • Some organizations and sub units within organization will be more political than others.
    • Most organizations today are more political. They have very limited resources; make ambiguous, uncertain decisions; have very unclear yet complex goals; have increasingly complex technology; and are undergoing drastic change.
    • Such organizations face more politics and power game becomes increasingly important.
    • Conditions that threaten the status of the powerful or encourage efforts of those wishing to increase their power base will stimulate intensity of organizational politics and increase proportion of decision making behaviours that are as political as opposed to rational.
  • 27.
    • Political strategies for attaining power in organizations:
      • Taking counsel
      • Maintaining manoeuvrability
      • Promoting limited communication
      • Exhibiting confidence
      • Controlling access to information and persons
      • Making activities central and non-substituble
      • Neutralizing potential opposition
      • Making strategic replacements
  • 28.
      • Committing the uncommitted
      • Forming a winning coalition
      • Developing expertise
      • Building personal stature
      • Employing trade-offs
      • Using research data to support one’s own point of view
      • Restricting communication about real intentions
      • Withdrawing from petty disputes
  • 29.
    • Maintain alliances with powerful people: the formation of coalitions is critical to acquisition of power in an orgn. An obvious coalition would be with members of upper level management. Not so obvious but equally important would be formation of alliance with boss’ secretary or staff assistant, that is, someone close to the powerful person.
    • Embrace or Demolish: Machiavellian principles can be applied as strategies in power game in organization.
    • Divide and Rule: this political and military strategy can also apply to acquisition of power in organizations.
  • 30.
    • Manipulate classified information: the importance of obtaining and disseminating information is immense. The politically astute organization member carefully controls this information in order to gain power.
    • Make a quick showing: this strategy involves looking good on some project or task right away in order to get the right peoples’ attention. Once this positive attention is gained, power is acquired to do other usually more difficult and long-range projects.
    • Collect and use IOUs: power seeker should do other people favours but should make it clear that they owe something in return and will be expected to pay up when asked.
  • 31.
    • Avoid decisive engagement (Fabianism): this is a strategy of going slow and easy- by not ‘ruffling feathers’ power seekers can slowly but surely become entrenched and gain cooperation and trust of others.
    • Progress one step at a time: this strategy involves taking one step at a time instead of trying to push a whole major project or reorganization attempt. One small change can be a foothold that power seeker can use as a basis to get other, more major things accomplished.
    • Wait for a crisis: this strategy uses reverse of ‘no news is good news’; that is, bad news gets attention.
    • Take counsel with caution: this is concerned with how to keep power than with how to acquire it. The manager should avoid opening the gates for shared decision making with subordinates which may erode the power of manager.
  • 32.
    • The ethical concern for power and politics in organizations goes beyond the notions of success or effectiveness.
    • Though respect for justice and human rights should prevail when it concerns ethics in organizational politics, modern complex organizations tend to create a climate which promotes power seeking and political manoeuvring and that’s the organizational reality today.