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Power And The Distribution Of Authority

By Author: peter
Total Articles: 191

Power is the ability to exert influence on other people. Power can be present in any relationship. In organizations, managers exert power. After all, we defined management as the process of shaping — that is, influencing — what people do at organizations.Still, managers are not the only people who can exert influence at organizations. Employees say and do things to influence managers. There are many kinds of stakeholders outside the organization that can influence managers and employees. So any organization — like any relationship — is an open system when it comes to power.

Power does not derive simply from an individual's level in the organization hierarchy. John French and Bertram Raven have identified five sources or bases of power. These aspects of power may be present in a variety of human relationships. In an organization, each Omega Replica may occur at all levels.

Reward power is based on one person (the influencer) having the ability to reward another person (the influence) for carrying out orders or meeting performance requirements. One example is the power of a supervisor to assign work tasks to employees. Coercive power, based on the influencer's ability to punish the influence for not meeting requirements, is the negative side of reward power. Punishment may range from a reprimand to loss of a job.

Legitimate power (formal authority) exists when an employee or influence acknowledges that the influencer is entitled to exert influence—within certain bounds. It is implied that the influence has an obligation to accept this power. The right of a manager to 2stablish reasonable work schedules is an example of "downward" legitimate power. A plant guard may have the "upward" authority to require even the company president to present an densification card before being allowed onto the premises.

Expert power is based on the perception or belief that the influencer has some relevant expertise or special knowledge that the influence does not. When we do what our doctors tell us, we are acknowledging their expert power.

Referent power, which may be held by a person or a group, is based on the influence's desire to identify with or imitate the influencer. For example, popular, conscientious managers will have referent power if employees are motivated to emulate their work habits. Referent power also functions at the peer level — charismatic colleagues may sway us to their viewpoints in department meetings.

A manager has the potential to operate from all five-power bases. Some of them are inherent in the position. A specific degree of legitimate power always accompanies a manager's job. In fact, it shapes the hierarchical relationships within which the other forms of power occur. Along with legitimate power, managers usually have reward and coercive power; they can reward employees with money, privileges, or promotions and punish them by withholding or removing these rewards. Unlike the first three types, expert and referent power cannot be "given" to managers along with the job title. However, managers are generally assumed to possess some degree of expertise (at least until they prove otherwise). Referent power, which depends on an individual's style and personality, is least likely to be an expected part of a manager's position. It is not unusual, however. When employees try to model themselves after executives they admire, referent power is at work.

Authority is a form of power. Specifically, formal authority is legitimate power. But we often use the term more broadly in speaking of other kinds of power as well. When we say that someone is "an authority" in a certain field, we mean that he or she knows a great deal Replica IWC about the subject — and thus has expert power. When we hear that a suspected criminal has been apprehended by "the authorities", we think of those holding the legitimate power of the government to maintain civil order. If the criminal is convicted, the judge has the "authority or coercive power to mete out punishment.

Formal authority is the type of power that we associate with organizational structure and management. It is based on the recognition of the legitimacy of managers' attempts to exert influence. Individuals or groups attempting to exert influence are perceived as having the right to do so within recognized boundaries. This is a right that arises from their formal position in an organization. In many organizations, managers use authority by dividing it into line authority, staff authority, and functional authority. These kinds of authority differ according to the kinds of power on which they are based.

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