Power is a very important feature of today’s organization. According to Greiner & Schein (2008), it can be conceptualized as the ability of the organization or individuals in the organization to control the environment within which they operate. This includes the ability of the organization to control the employees, and the ability of certain individual employees to control the organization and fellow work mates.
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Power can be viewed as an upward or a downward phenomenon in organizations (Greiner & Schein, 2008). Downward influence of power is observable when senior managers and other superiors wield power over the subordinates, influencing their actions. On the other hand, upward influence of power can be seen in organizations where the subordinate or low cadre employees are able to influence the superior managers and the organization as a whole.
This paper is an essay on a case study of power and dependency on a hypothetical corporation A. This corporation has been in operation since the year 1989. The major objective of the corporation is to create marketing programs for their clients. Their clientele base is made up of businesses in the real estate industry, and the mission of this corporation is to help the clients improve the sales they make in their particular market. The corporation’s team is made up of experts from various professional backgrounds. The experience level of the team members is also varied.
This author is going to look at the interplay between power and dependency in this firm. Five bases of power will be identified, and the relationship between the identified bases of power and dependency in the organization. The author will use a hypothetical scenario within the organization to achieve this.
Five Bases of Power in Corporation “A”
The scenario provided for Corporation A brings forth five bases of power as identified by French and Raven (Greiner & Schein, 2008). These two scholars conducted a classic study in 1959 and came up with these bases. These bases will be explained in detail within the context of Corporation “A”.
As earlier indicated, this base of power is also referred to in some literature as legitimate power (Greiner & Schein, 2008). It can be conceptualized as the power or influence enjoyed by an individual as a result of the relative position that they hold within the corporation. The duties of the position occupied are the specific sources of this power.
Greiner & Schein (2008) are of the view that this power can be viewed as the formal authority that is delegated to the incumbent by the organization. It can be identified by attributes such as the uniform of the incumbent, their office among other indicators. Greiner & Schein (2008) view it as one of the most overt and most prominent base of power.
In the case of Corporation “A”, positional power is very obvious. A case in point is the scenario of employee 2. This employee negotiated with the accounting manager to work a four-day work week. It is important to note that employee 2 was only able to work this way after the accounting manager endorsed their request. This being the case, the accounting manager can be viewed as wielding positional power. The manager has power over employee 2 by virtue of their position as the manager. Their power is indicated by the office that they occupy, meeting the criteria for this power as envisaged by French and Raven (Greiner & Schein, 2008).
Referent or Personal Power
According to Greiner & Schein (2008), this is the ability of the holder to gain and sustain the loyalty of other people in the society or in the organisation. This emanates from the charisma and interpersonal skills of the individual (Greiner & Schein, 2008). The power holder attracts admiration from others, and they use this to influence them. This power is legitimized because those under it derive satisfaction from the power holder’s acceptance of their submission.
The power held by employee 3 is a text book case of referent power. Despite the fact that this employee has been in the organization for a relatively shorter duration, he is able to gain acceptance of his team, and goes as far as being the team leader. His charisma and positive personality creates loyalty from others. He used this loyalty to gain support for his idea, and to lead the team.
This power derives from the experience, expertise and skills of the holder, and the extent to which the corporation needs the same (Greiner & Schein, 2008). The individual is able to influence other people in the organization, and in extension the organization as a whole, given the scarcity and importance of the expertise. However, this base of power is very specific and is limited the skills and qualifications of the holder.
This is the kind of power that employee 2 wields. The employee is the only certified public accountant in the department. The employee is the only one who can prepare the corporation’s financial statements. The employee knows that their expertise is needed by the organization, and they have used to influence the accounting manager to allow them work a compressed work week.
This is the power emanating from the ability of the holder to confer coveted material rewards to those under power (Greiner & Schein, 2008). The rewards include promotions, bonuses and such others.
This is the kind of power that the marketing manager has over employee 1. The manager has effectively managed to influence employee 1 to work overtime in order to receive the large bonus. This bonus is a coveted and valued reward to the employee given that they need to pay for their vacation.
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This power emanates from application of negative influences on those under power by the holder (Greiner & Schein, 2008). It can also emanate from the desire that those under power have for coveted rewards, and the uncertainty of having the same withdrawn or withheld.
This is the kind of power that employee 2 has over the accounting manager. The manager fears that the employee may withhold their expertise in public accounts and their ability to prepare the financial statements. As such, the manager complied with the request of this employee to work a compressed work. The marketing manager can also be seen to be having this power over employee 1. This employee works overtime for fear that the reward of the coveted bonus may be withheld or withdrawn. The employee obeys because they need the bonus for a holiday.
Conclusion: Relationship between Bases of Power and Dependency in Corporation “A”
Greiner & Schein (2008) are of the view that power with no dependency lacks influence. Dependency is needed to give power its ability to influence. The degree of dependency determines the degree and intensity of power. Greiner & Schein (2008) identifies three parameters of dependency. These are scarcity, importance and lack of a substitute.
Power and dependency are obvious in the scenario provided for Corporation “A”. For example, employee 2 holds a great deal of expertise power on the accounting manager given that the manager and the organization rely heavily on this employee’s expertise. This dependency also increases the influence of the coercive power that employee 2 has over the accounting manager. The employee’s expertise is scarce within the organization; it is important to the organization and can not be substituted.
The dependency of the accounting manager on employee 2 makes their positional power less influential. The manager depends more on employee 2 than employee 2 depends on them. This imbalance works to the benefit of employee 2, giving them more influence.
Employee 1 is depending on the bonus to pay for their expensive vacation. The bonus is important to them, and it is also scarce. The bonus can not be substituted, since the employee has no other source of funding to pay for the vacation. This makes the reward power held by the marketing manager over employee 1 more influential.
Employee 3 depends on the loyalty from the other members of the team to be able to influence them. Without this loyalty, their referent power will not be legitimized, and as such, will wield less influence. Employee 3 has to meet this dependency by being charismatic, energetic and positive. Their influence is great since they are able to satisfy their dependency on the other members of the team.
Greiner, L. E., & Schein, V. E. (2008). Power and organization development: Mobilizing power to implement change. 4th ed. Alexandria, VA: Prentice Hall.