Individual Power Bases and Position Power
The definition of power is the ability to influence, alter behaviour, and change the attitude of others in a particular way. Personal power lies within each person and is broken down into two categories of expert power and referent power. Expert power is derived from an individual’s skills that others need but do not, including knowledge, experience, and judgment. This power is based on a person’s performance over time and their knowledge’s importance; it is not absolute, which means there is always someone more powerful. Referent power is to change another person’s behaviour so they can identify with the person they look at as the powerful one so they can feel like they are part of something.
Identification is considered referent power because people will change their behaviour based on who another person with power is. Although others admire people with referent power, the downfall is maintaining the images they have created to retain referent power (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021a).
Position power comes from the rank of a position held within an organization and is broken down into legitimate, reward, and coercive power. Legitimate power has a position or title with authority, and the person holding that position has the authority to lead their subordinates. This power is important and necessary in a company; managers who rely on this power tend to lack effectiveness, usually because of a phenomenon called the zone of indifference. The zone of indifference is a set of instructions that subordinates will follow without question and is much broader these days, making it harder for managers to abuse their power. Reward power is derived from a person’s ability to produce positive outcomes with positive rewards like money, praise, and promotions and increase outcomes with negative rewards like bad work hours, job assignments, and environment.
Although reward power can be good, it can also do more harm; when rewards do not equal expectations, positive rewards can become ineffectual and negative rewards can reduce employee morale. Coercive power is the use of retribution, such as the threat of demotion, transfer, and withholding of funds and is like negative reward power. This power has been known to make performance and behaviour issues better when not abused as not to decrease employee morale (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021a).
Political savvy is another term for political skill; these people can see the real, hidden agendas and connections in political situations. They also can influence others to behave in ways that affect personal and organizational objectives and change their behaviour to create credibility and authenticity in certain situations (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021b).
Political savvy, political skill and networking are related to organizational power through connection power which is formal and informal exchanges with other people that “form relationships and networks (Uhl-Bien et al, 2021).” Connection power has three types, first is association power which is having a relationship with powerful people and can be valuable within an organization because things can get done. Second is reciprocity power, which comes from relationships formed from doing a favour and them owing a favour. In an organization, this power can create a network of allies and open access to fulfilling needs. Third is information power, which is having valuable information from being affiliated with people with access to that important information. How this information is used determines if it builds relationships and connections, creating a network (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021b).
These can lead to relationship power, which builds connections and networks to access and influence others and build social capital (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021b).
Uhl-Bien, M., Piccolo, R.F., Schermerhorn, J. R. & Bachrach, D.G. (2021a). MGT-420 organizational behaviour and management with WileyPLUS. Wiley & Sons. https://read.wiley.com/books/9781119791553/page/29/section/c08-sec1-0002
Uhl-Bien, M., Piccolo, R.F., Schermerhorn, J. R. & Bachrach, D.G. (2021b). MGT-420 organizational behaviour and management with WileyPLUS. Wiley & Sons. https://read.wiley.com/books/9781119791553/page/27/section/c14-sec-0003
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Which power bases lie within the individual? Which are derived from the organization? Review political skill, political savvy, and networking in the textbook. How is each related to power in organizations?
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