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Power and Politics
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
3 Themes
• Social Influence—attempts to affect another
in a desired fashion
• Power—the capacity to change the behavior
or attitudes of others in a desired manner
• Organizational politics—unauthorized uses
of power that enhance or protect your own
personal interests (usually at the expense of
organizational goals).
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Relationship Among Social
Influence, Power, and Politics
Motive:
To satisfy
personal interests
Personal
Characteristics
Organizational
politics
Successful
influence
(had desired effect)
POWER
Organizational
Position
Legitimate
behavior
Motive:
To satisfy
organizational goals
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Unsuccessful
influence
(did not have
desired effect)
Influence Tactics
• Rational persuasion—based on logical arguments
• Inspirational appeal—appeal to another’s values
and ideals
• Consultation—request participation in decisionmaking
• Ingratiation—putting someone in a good mood
and getting them to like you
• Exchange—promise benefits in exchange for
compliance
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Influence Tactics (cont.)
• Personal appeal—appeal to another’s feelings of
loyalty or friendship
• Coalition-building—seeking or noting the support
of others
• Legitimating—relating request to one’s authority
and organizational policies and practices
• Pressure—use of demands, threats, and
intimidation
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
When are these tactics used?
• Use depends on the organizational level of
the person one is attempting to influence
– Open, consultative tactics are believed to be
more appropriate than coercive tactics
– Less socially desirable tactics are used
infrequently
• What else?
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Bases of Power
• Two main categories of power
– Position power—based on one’s formal
position in an organization
– Personal power—derived from a person’s
individual qualities or characteristics
Individual Power
Position Power
•
•
•
•
Legitimate power
Reward power
Coercive power
Information power
Personal Power
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
•
•
•
•
Rational persuasion
Referent power
Expert power
Charisma
Legitimate Power
• The power to control and use organizational
resources to accomplish organizational
goals. Others recognize and accept your
authority.
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Reward Power
• The power to give pay raises, promotion,
praise, interesting projects, and other
rewards to subordinates.
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Coercive Power
• The power to punish.
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Information Power
• The power that stems from access to and
control over information.
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Rational Persuasion
• Ability to mount logical arguments and
factual evidence to convince others an idea
is acceptable (among the most popular)
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Expert Power
• Informal power that stems from superior
ability, knowledge or expertise. (Extremely
“powerful” form of power).
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Referent Power
• Informal power that stems from being liked,
admired, and respected.
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Charismatic Power
• An intense form of referent power that
stems from an individual’s personality or
physical or other abilities, which induce
others to believe in and follow that person.
– Vision
– Inspire trust
– Excellent communicators
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Political Tactics for Increasing
Individual Power
• Tapping the sources of functional and
divisional power
• Recognizing who has power
• Controlling the agenda
• Bringing in an outside expert
• Building coalitions and alliances
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Political Tactics for Increasing
Individual Power
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Sources of Functional and
Divisional Power
•
•
•
•
Ability to control uncertain contingencies
Irreplaceability
Centrality
Ability to control and generate resources
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
Sources of Functional and Divisional
Power
Copyright 1999 by Brent Smith, Ph.D.
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