Thursday, May 6, 2010

Five Bases of Power

Chapter 15 discusses the five bases of power social power, as presented by the work of John French and Bertram Raven. The five bases of power are reward, coercive, legitimate, expert, and referent. A person can obtain compliance from another person by exerting these types of social influence, and sometimes people don't even know they are doing it. Knowledge of these types of social influences that lead to power can help one to behave morally or immorally, and can help one to further their progress in an organization. The exertions of these types of power can also be beneficial or hurtful to an organization's objectives, depending on how they are used by an individual to gain power. For example, reward power can be detrimental to the effectiveness of teamwork because a reward system might increase competition among individuals and make others feel left out. The organization of the reward system is crucial in this regard. Another example is coercive power, which can cause an individual to feel manipulated, or simply used as a stepping stone for another's benefit. Each type of social influence leaves a lasting imprint on the relationships between individuals in every organization.

Social power is about influence. "When we're involved with other people (children, bosses, IRS agents) our ability to satisfy our desires (freedom) has a lot to do with how successfully we influence those people or resist their efforts to influence us in ways we don't want." Social power has an effect on how people feel in work settings and job satisfaction. Social power is not only power that comes from formal authority, but also sources which we do not always acknowledge, and has a large effect on how people move through organizations and relate to others. Even those who are not in formal positions can exert social influence and gain a lot of power over relationships and decisions made within an organization.

Atlee, John S. "Democracy: A social power analysis." The Co-Intelligence Institute. 1952. Date Accessed: 06 May 2010.

Kreitner, Robert. Organizational Behavior. 9th ed. Vol. 1. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2010.

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