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Power and Influence in the Workplace

McGraw-Hill/Irwin McShane/Von Glinow OB 5e

Copyright 2010 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Power, Influence & Politics in the RCMP

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) human resources director Denise Revine and her boss Chief Superintendent Fraser Macauley, (see photo) had their careers derailed when they reported that pension funds had been misappropriated. A Canadian government report concluded the RCMP suffered from the absolute power exercised by the Commissioner.

The Meaning of Power

Power is the capacity of a person, team, or organization to influence others.
Potential, not actual use People have power they dont

use -- may not know they possess A perception


Power and Dependence

Person Bs countervailing power over Person A (Skill, knowledge,etc)

Person A Boss

Person As control of resource valued by Person B (Control over jobsecurity, promotion,etc)

Person B staff
Person As power over Person B

Resource desired by person B (paycheck)

Power relationship also depends on trust : the level of expectation that the more powerful party will deliver the resouces


Model of Power in Organizations

Sources of Power Legitimate Reward Coercive Expert Referent Power over others

Contingencies of Power

From the job/position

Personal characteristics

Sources of Power

Agreement that people in certain roles can request certain behaviors of others Based on job descriptions and mutual agreement Legitimate power range (zone of indifference the range within which
people are willing to accept someone elses authority)

varies across national and org cultures conformity,

traditional values, high power distance, etc


Sources of Power
Legitimate Reward

Ability to control the allocation of rewards valued by others and to remove negative sanctions Operates upward as well as downward (because of 360 degrees
feedback system)


Sources of Power
Legitimate Reward Coercive

Ability to apply punishment Exists upward as well as downward Peer pressure is a form of coercive power


Sources of Power
Legitimate Reward Coercive


The capacity to influence others by possessing knowledge or skills that they value More employee expert power over companies in knowledge economy

Sources of Power
Legitimate Reward Coercive

Expert Referent

Occurs when others identify with, like, or otherwise respect the person Associated with charismatic leadership


DeCourcys Trendspotting Power

Colleen DeCourcy has developed a reputation as a trendspotter, giving her considerable information power in the advertising industry. Her knowledge of the digital landscape, grounded in creativity, make her an invaluable additional to TBWA, says DeCourcys boss.


Information and Power

Control over information flow

Based on legitimate power
Relates to formal communication


Coping with uncertainty

More power to those who can

help firms cope with uncertainty - Prevention - Forecasting - Absorption


Power Through Control of Information Flow

Wheel formation All-channels formation

This person has high information control

These people individually have low information control


Contingencies of Power
Sources of Power Contingencies of Power Substitutability Centrality Discretion Power over others



Increasing Nonsubstitutability

Few/no alternatives to the resource (monopoly, only

minimum sources for resouce - or by deacreasing substitutions of the resource itself, substituting skilled labor with robots)

Increase nonsubstituability by controlling the resource

exclusive right to perform medical procedures
control over skilled labor exclusive knowledge to repair equipment

Differentiate resource from others new product/

service or new packaging to make it look new



Degree and nature of interdependence between powerholder and others Centrality is a function of:
How many others are affected by you

How quickly others are affected by you

(well timed strikes)


Discretion and Visibility

The freedom to exercise judgment Rules limit discretion, limit power Also a perception acting as if you have discretion

Symbols communicate your power source(s) - Educational diplomas (on walls, pics with powerful people) - Clothing etc (stethoscope around neck) Salience - Location others more aware of your presence (where
you sit so you can be seen)


Social Networking and Power

Cultivating social relationships with others to accomplish ones goals Increases power through:
social capital

referent power
visibility and centrality contingencies


Influencing Others

Influence -- any behavior that attempts to alter someones attitudes or behavior

Applies one or more power bases Process through which people achieve

organizational objectives
Operates up, down, and across the organizational



Types of Influence
Silent Authority
Following requests without overt influence

Based on legitimate power, role modeling

Common in high power distance cultures

Assertiveness Actively applying legitimate and coercive

power (vocal authority) Reminding, confronting, checking, threatening


Types of Influence (cont)

Information Control
Manipulating others access to information Withholding, filtering, re-arranging information

Coalition Formation

Group forms to gain more power than individuals alone 1. Pools resources/power 2. Legitimizes the issue 3. Power through social identity


Types of Influence (cont)

Upward Appeal
Appealing to higher authority

Includes appealing to firms goals

Alliance or perceived alliance with higher status person


Logic, facts, emotional appeals Depends on persuader, message content, message medium, audience


Types of Influence (cont)

Ingratiation/ Impress. Mgt.
increaseliking by, or perceived similarity to the target person (apple polishing)ingratiation is part of impression mgt. IM : distinct clothing, voice, skills, knowledge, etc


Promising or reminding of past benefits in exchange for compliance Includes negotiation and networking


Consequences of Influence Tactics

(possible reactions from receiver of influence) people oppose the behavior desired by the influencer motivated by external sources (rewards) to implement request identify with and highly motivated to implement request





Consequences of Influence Tactics

Hard Influence Tactics Soft Influence Tactics

Silent authority ? Upward appeal Coalition formation Information control Assertiveness

Persuasion Ingratiation & impression mgt Exchange




Silent authority : resistence & compliance or compliance only? Or silent authority is both hard and soft influence tactics?

Contingencies of Influence Tactics

Soft tactics generally more acceptable than hard tactics Appropriate influence tactic depends on:
Influencers power base Organizational position Cultural values and expectations

Example: 1. Power-oriented boss using assertiveness to staff in govt org. 2. Compliant staff using assertiveness to boss in govt org. 3. Staff using ingratiation to narcissistic boss 4. Secretary using exchange tactics to boss

Organizational Politics

Behaviors that others perceive as selfserving tactics for personal gain at the expense of other people and possibly the organization.


Conditions for Organizational Politics

Machiavellian? Power-oriented? Compliant? High power distance?

Tolerance of Politics

Scarce Resources

Conditions Supporting Organizational Politics

Organizational Change
Complex and Ambiguous Decisions (eg on
how to allocate resources)

Need for clear rules, SOPs

Keep employees informed of changes


Minimizing Political Behaviour

1. 2. 3.

Introduce clear rules for scarce resources Effective organizational change practices Suppress norms that support or tolerate self-serving behavior Leaders role model organizational citizenship Give employees more control over their work Keep employees informed




Power and Influence in the Workplace

McGraw-Hill/Irwin McShane/Von Glinow OB 5e

Copyright 2010 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.