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Ch-17

Power and Politics

Chapt
er
17 Power and Politics

Copyright 2009, V S P Rao

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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Introduction
Power is the potential ability to influence the behaviour of others. It is the ability to
make things happen or get things done the way you want. Influence is a
behavioural response to the exercise of power. It is an outcome achieved through
the use of power. People are Influenced when they act in ways consistent with
the desires of someone else. Managers use power to achieve influence over the
people in the work setting. Control is the ultimate form of influence wherein
acceptable behaviour is specified and individuals or groups are prevented from
behaving otherwise. For example, internal accounting procedures are designed
to control financial transactions and prevent employee theft. Locked gates,
hidden cameras, and other physical security devices are designed to control the
flow of merchandise and prevent shoplifting.

Copyright 2009, V S P Rao

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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Concept of Power
Power, in other words, is the capacity that A has to influence the behaviour of B,
so B does something he would not otherwise do (Robbins). This definition
implies five things:

Potential

Dependency

Discretion

Specific

Reciprocal

Cont.

Copyright 2009, V S P Rao

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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Power vs. Authority

Authority but Authority Power but


No power Plus power No authority

The right but The right and The ability but


not the ability the ability to get not the right to
to get subordinates subordinates to get other people
to do things do things to do things

The Relationship between Authority and Power

Cont.

Copyright 2009, V S P Rao

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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Differences between Power and Authority


Power Authority
1. Ability. Power is the ability of an individual Right. Authority is the right to command and extract
to affect and influence others. work from employees.
2. Leadership. Power is generally Managership. Authority is vested with manager.
associated with leadership
3. Board. Power is a broader concept and Narrow. Authority is a narrow concept. A manager
includes authority also in some sense. may have considerable authority but still may be
Authority is nothing but institutionalised powerless.
power.
4. Two faces. Power has two faces. Congruence. We cannot make such markedly distinct
Negative and positive. Personal faces of authority. And such distinction becomes
domination at the expense of others is ridiculous with regard to authority.
negative; socialised power is a
praiseworthy positive face.
5. Personal. Power is a personal quality. Positional. Authority is mostly vested in the position.
Legitimate power is similar to authority.

Cont.

Copyright 2009, V S P Rao

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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Authority, Power and Influence

Manager

Authority

Organizational
Accepted by Power influenced, Goals
Subordinates if rejected by
Subordinates

Cont.
Authority, Power and Influence Process
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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Authority and Competence


Authority implies issuing of orders as well as the capacity to exact compliance.
Submission is voluntary in competence whereas it is expected in authority. In
other words, competence exerts influence; authority exacts obedience. The
competence theory of authority is an excellent illustration of the acceptance
theory.
Authority and Leadership
Authority relationship is one of super-ordination and subordination; whereas
leadership relation is that of dominance and submission. Leadership is primarily
a function of influence; whereas authority is a function of power. In a leadership
relation, the person is basic; in an authority relation the person is merely a
symbol.
Authority and Responsibility
Responsibility is the task to be done and authority is the tool needed to perform
the task. It should be noted that authority must be carefully tailored to fit the
responsibilities involved. Failure to strike a happy balance between the two may
be frustrating to superiors and subordinates as well. Copyright 2009, V S P Rao

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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Influence Tactics in the Workplace


While there are a multitude of means to influence the recipient they can be
classified into the following categories (Yukl and Falbe):
1. Consultation: Seeking someones participation in a decision or change.
2. Rational persuasion: Trying to convince someone by relying on a detailed
plan, supporting, information, reasoning, or logic.
3. Inspirational appeals: Appealing to someones emotions, values, or ideals
to generate enthusiasm and confidence.
4. Ingratiating tactics: Making someone feel important or good before making
a request; acting humble or friendly before making a request.
5. Coalition tactics: Seeking the aid of others to persuade someone to agree,
6. Pressure tactics: Relying on intimidation, demands, or threat to gain
compliance or support.
7. Upward appeals: Obtaining formal or informal support of higher
management.
8. Exchange tactics: Offering an exchange of favours; reminding someone of
a past favour; offering to make a personal sacrifice. Copyright 2009, V S P Rao

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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Sources of Power
The important sources of Power may be listed thus:

Expert Power

Charismatic Power (also called referent power)

Reward Power

Information Power

Exchange

Legitimate Power

Coercive Power

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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Empowerment
Empowerment is a process in which employees are given increasing amounts of
autonomy and discretion in connection with their work. It makes every one feel
important, relevant and useful in an organisation. There is no need to seek
permission from upstairs, nor wait for an audience at the door steps of those
who had the power to hold the stick and distribute the carrots. To make things
happen quickly, of course, every one needs to understand the importance of
expanding the pie. People who are empowered need to be trained to expand
their power without rubbing people on the wrong side. People who are feeling
loss of power need not really calculate the emotional costs and develop feelings
of having been pushed to the wall. By providing opportunities for creative
problem-solving, coupled with the discretion to act, real empowerment increases
the total power available in an organisation. In other words, the top levels dont
have to give up power in order for the lower levels to gain it.
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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Organisational Politics
Political behaviour is a general way of getting and using power for personal gain.
Organisational Politics may be defined as those activities engaged in by people
in order to acquire, enhance and employ power and other resources to achieve
preferred outcomes in organisational setting characterised by disagreement or
uncertainty about choices (Pfeffer). Farrell and Peterson defined the term thus:
Politics in an organisation refers to those activities that are not required as part
of ones formal role in the organization, but that influence, or attempt to influence,
the distribution of advantages and disadvantages within the organization. In the
light of these definitions, the important features of organisational politics may be
stated thus:
a) Not officially blessed
b) Self-serving
c) Intentional
d) Not Rational
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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Reasons for Political Behaviour


Politics is a fact of life in organisations. The reasons are fairly obvious
(Robbins):
Organisational Factors
Scarce Resources
Limited Opportunities
Lack of Trust
Role Ambiguity
Performance Evaluation
Delay in Feedback
Pressure to Perform well
Employees Participation in Decision-making
Politicking by Top Management
Individual factors Cont.

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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Political Strategies and Tactics to acquire Power


Various political strategies are pursued by individuals with a view to enhance
their image and gain respect from others. Successful political behaviour involves
keeping people happy, cultivating contacts and wheeling and dealing. Some
commonly employed political strategies are given below: (Dubrin)
Forming Alliances
Selective use of Information
Scapegoating
Image Building
Networking
Compromise
Rule Manipulation
Fabianism
One step at a time
Persuasion
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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Managing Political Behaviour


Political behaviour, by its very nature, defies logical thinking and systematic
handling. But managers can prevent excessive damage to organisational
performance by initiating certain steps:

Define Job Duties clearly

Design Jobs properly

Demonstrate Proper Behaviour

Promote Understanding

Allocate Resources judiciously

Cont.

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Ch-17
Power and Politics

Managers Rules for Winning at Office Politics


Find out what the boss expects.
Build an information network. Knowledge is power. Identity the people who have power
and the extent and direction of it. Title doesnt necessarily reflect actual influence. Find
out how the grapevine works. Develop good internal public relations for yourself.
Find a mentor. This is a trusted counsellor who can be honest with you and help train and
guide you to improve your ability and effectiveness as a manager.
Dont make enemies without a very good reason.
Avoid cliques. Keep circulating in the office.
If you must fight, fight over something that is really worth it. Dont lose ground over minor
matters or petty differences.
Gain power through allies. Build ties that bind. Create IOUs, obligations, and loyalties. Do
not be afraid to enlist help from above.
Maintain control. Dont misuse your cohorts. Maintain the status and integrity of your allies.
Mobilize your forces when necessary. Dont commit your friends without their approval. Be a
gracious winner when you do win.
Never hire a family member or a close friend.
Source: Adapted from David E. Hall, Winning at Office Politics, Credit & Financial Management, 86 (April 1984)

Copyright 2009, V S P Rao

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