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Published by: Teena Reny on Apr 09, 2011
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The OD practitioner is neither power activist nor power broker, but that does not mean
practitioners must be naive or incompetent in the political arena. Earlier we stated that the OD
practitioner should learn as much as possible about bargaining, negotiations the nature of power
and politics, the strategy and tactics of influence, and the characteristics and behaviors of

As shown in the figure, individual power derives from knowledge, others¶ support, and
personality characteristics. Three successful power strategies are "playing it straight," "using
social networks," and "going around the formal system." OD practitioners have typically pursued
a "playing it straight" strategy as their sole means of exerting power. The authors propose adding
the "using social networks" strategy to their repertoires, thereby greatly expanding practitioner
influence. One carries out such a strategy by participating in alliances and coalitions, dealing
directly with powerholders and decision makers, and using contacts for information. Networking
is recognized as a potent, viable, yet legitimate means of acquiring power.

Table 8.1: Power Base and Power Strategy Connection

Individual Power Bases

Strategies for Success


· Expertise

· Information

· Tradition

Playing It Straight

· Use data to convince

· Focus on target group

· Be persistent

Others¶ Support

y Political access

y Staff support

Using Social Networks

· Alliances and coalitions

· Deal with decision maker

· Contacts for information


y Charisma

y Reputation

y Professional credibility

Going Around Formal System

· Work around roadblocks

· (Don¶t) use organization rules

Finally, the authors propose a four-stage model for using the OD process to help the power elite
transform the organization in ways beneficial for all concerned. The four stages are:

Phase I Consolidating Power to Prepare for Change

Phase ll Focusing Power on Strategic Consensus

Phase Ill Aligning Power with Structure and People

Phase IV Realizing Power through leadership and Collaboration

These stages are the means the OD consultant uses to "take the high road" mentioned in the
previous quotation-build a power base, influence key powerholders to accept the OD program,
then utilize a facilitative OD process in which the powerholders work on strategic business issues
using consensus decision making to develop a corporate strategy. The power structure will
realize that collaborative power is preferable to manipulation and deception, which in turn will
protect the interests of all concerned, even those of little power. This practical, how-to book on
power and organization development is well worth studying.

Whetton and Cameron¶s model is shown in following figure. In this model, a person¶s power
comes from two main sources, personal power and position power. Personal power, in turn,
arises from expertise, personal attraction, effort, and legitimacy. (Legitimacy refers to abiding by
and promoting the values of the organization.) Position power derives from five sources:
Centrality-access to information in a communication network; criticality-how important one¶s
job is flexibility-the amount of discretion in the job; visibility-how much one¶s work is seen by
influential people; and relevance-how important one¶s task is in relation to organizational

³One of the most important ways of gaining power in an organization is by establishing a broad
network of task and interpersonal relationships. Networks are critical to effective performance
for one compelling reason: Except for routine jobs, no one has the necessary information and
resources to accomplish what¶s expected of them. Indeed, one investigation of the determinants
of effective management performance concluded that a key factor distinguishing high and low
performers was the ability to establish informal relationships via networks´.

Fig. 8.1: Model of Power and Influence

Networking is used to increase both personal power and position power.

Having power is one thing; actually using it to get things done is another. According to these
authors, power-in-use is called influence. They write: "Influence entails actually securing the
consent of others to work with you in accomplishing an objective." And, "Power is converted
into influence when the target individual consents to behave according to the desires of the
power holder." Three things are involved in converting power into influence: (1) resisting other
people¶s inappropriate influence attempts, (2) selecting the proper influence strategy, and (3)
empowering others.

Three influence strategies can be used to influence others-reason, reciprocity, and retribution.

Reason refers to persuasion by facts.

Reciprocity refers to exchange of favors.

Retribution refers to coercion and threats.

Usually reason is the preferred strategy, and reciprocity can be useful when reason fails.
Retribution is not recommended except in unusual cases. Whetton and Cameron suggest several
means of resisting others¶ influence attempts such as confrontation and using countervailing
power. Methods for empowering others are the following: (1) involve subordinates in assigning
work, (2) provide a positive, collaborative work environment, (3) reward and encourage others in
visible and personal ways, (4) express confidence
(5) foster initiative and responsibility, and (6) build on success.

Concluding Comments:

In this unit, we have examined power and politics with the goals of understanding the
phenomena and deriving implications for OD practitioners. Power and politics are similar in
nature, arise from known conditions, and are amenable to positive control. Our suggestions for

using power to operate effectively in organizations may help practitioner avoid the perils and
pitfalls of power that "go with the territory" of organizational change.

Self Assessment Questions

1. ±±±±±± is the intentional influence over the beliefs, emotions or behaviour of people.

2. _____________ has identified two faces of power.

3. Power based on the power-receiver having identification with the power holder is called ±±±±
±±±±±±±- .

4. ±±±±±±±± defined politics as the study of who gets what, when and how.

5. ±±±±±±±±±± is made up of Charisma, reputation and professional credibility.

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