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The Bases Of Power And The Use Of Power By Managers

2077 words - 9 pages

Power is defined as “the potential ability to influence behaviour, to change the course of events, to overcome resistance, and to convince people to do things that they would not do otherwise.” (Pfeffer, 1992. p.29). Power in organisational can be broken into bases of power. These bases of power are able to be grouped into two general labels - formal and personal. It is the aim of this essay to identify, describe and differentiate the bases of power, as well as analogise the use of power by managers in an organisational setting accompanied with examples. To do this, this essay will firstly address the bases of power as well as the two general labels; followed by describing and differentiating between the bases under their respective label. Next this essay will demonstrate the use of power by managers in an organisation, and finally the six bases of power will be applied to managers through examples.

The various bases of power, as identified by French and Raven, are reward, coercion, legitimate, expert, referent and informational. The last of these six bases, informational, was originally extracted from the bases expert. (Raven, B. H. 1993.) As stated before, these bases of power are grouped into two categories – formal and personal. The formal bases of power include: coercion, reward, legitimate, and information. Therefore both expert and referent are categorised as personal. Personal power originates from an “individual’s unique characteristic,” (Answers.com. 2014) which can otherwise be referred to as being reflective on the individual in power to their personality and mentality towards influencing others. Formal power can come from the ability to “coerce or reward, from formal authority, or from control of information.” (Answers.com. 2014).
The base of power, coercion, is dependent on fear. It is as a result of fear of the negative results which may ensue if one failed to comply. This base relies upon the claim or risk of physical authorisations; such as, threat of physical application such as inflicting pain, forcefully controlling the basic safety and/or physiological needs, or through the forceful use of restriction of movement. Opposite to coercive power is the reward power base. By producing positive benefits if complied with, the desires or instruction of another the reward power will be produced. “Therefore one who can distribute rewards that other view as valuable will have power over that other.” (Answers.com. 2014). Rewards can vary from financial or non-financial. Financial rewards may include the controlling of bonuses, salaries, and raises; whilst non-financial may refer to promotions, friendly colleagues, interesting work assignments, preferred work shifts and recognition. Legitimate power, also referred to as positional power, is considered to represent formal authority and may be used to control the use of organisational resources. Both coercive and reward powers are able to be grouped under legitimate power; however,...

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