The Role of Power in Negotiation

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The Role of Power in Negotiation

It has received this reputation because most people associate the word with one side dominating or overpowering the other. I define power as the ability to influence people or situations. With this definition, power is neither good nor bad. It is the abuse of power that is bad.

Interpersonal Power

French and Raven (1959:150-167) suggested five interpersonal bases of power that are important to negotiators.

• Legitimate power
• Reward power
• Coercive power
• Expert power
• Referent power

Legitimate power

Legitimate power is derived from the ability to influence because of position. A person at a higher level has power over the people below. However, each person with legitimate power uses it with a personal flair. Subordinates play a major role in the exercise of legitimate power. If subordinates view the power as legitimate, they comply. However, the culture, customs and value systems of an organization determine the limits of legitimate power. In other words, there are times when people respond to directions from another, even directions they do not like, because they feel it is proper and legitimate for the other to tell them and proper (obligatory) for them to obey. This is legitimate power. Sometimes one party will use legitimate power as a tactic against another party by: 1. bringing in someone who has the influence to make important decisions, and who has credibility with the other party or by 2. Assigning a lot of legitimate power to an individual or individuals within opposing parties so as to use the need for power and status that exists in all individuals to get major concessions from them. This is sometimes referred to as 'ingratiation' or stroking. It is important to recognize that legitimate power can only have influence if it is recognized by other individuals because it occurs only in a social structure. Some negotiators may attempt to deny the other party...
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