Power and Political Behavior


1. The Nature of Power in Organizations


Power: the capacity to influence the behavior of others


The use of power


2. Authority: the legitimate right to influence others


Sources of authority

  1. Bases of Power

Discussion: Do subordinates have power over their superior, why? If they have, based on what sources of power?


  1. The Resource-Dependency Model: how much power a person/group can have over others

Dependency: the control of A's critical resources by B.


Key assumption: the greater A's dependency on B, the greater the power B has over A.


The dimensions of dependency


Case 1: the increasing power of computer technicians

Case 2: How experts create the dependency of general public over their expertise

Case 3: the power of university instructors over students

Case 4: the power of Departmental Chair over professors


Discussion: how can a subordinate achieve great power the creation and manipulation of the above three factors of resources?


Discussion: Who have more power over subordinates, Japanese superiors or American superiors? Why?


  1. Generic Influence Tactics
  1. Organizational Currencies Traded in the Exchange Process

7. Responses to the exertion of power/influence

  1. Organizational Politics: actions by individuals or groups to acquire, develop, and use power and other resources to obtain preferred outcomes when there is uncertainty or disagreement about choices
Key: ambiguity, complexity, uncertainty, invisibility, interpretive flexibility


Case 1: Budgeting, Staffing, and Downsizing => Turf politics

Case 2: Performance evaluation

Case 3: Impression management


  1. The ethics of power and costs of abuse: different approaches

Discussion: the power and rights of majority and minority, is affirmative action ethical?


Discussion: symbols of power and powerless in organization