5 Different Bases of Power

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5 Different Bases of Power

By | Feb. 2011
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French and Raven came up with five different bases of power. Coercive, legitimate, reward, referent, and expert are the five types of power. Someone can create power through one or more of these bases. There is the possibility that one base power may undermine another. One must learn how to use these powers in a positive way to create a positive relationship.

Coercive power gives employers power by having the employees fearful of punishment. Termination, demotion, or loss of rewards could be used as punishments if the employee does not comply. We see coercive power used in the scenario with Employee 1. Employee 1 has to work overtime because he/she is fearful of losing the yearly bonus. In this case the manager is the individual who holds the power.

Individuals do what is required of them so they can receive a desired reward. Rewards can be recognition, new assignments, promotion or a pay raise. In the scenario the reward being used with Employee 1 was the yearly bonus. A reward can also be removing something negative. Reward power is a way to motivate employees to do their best work within the company. In this case the manager has power by offering an award the employee wants.

Legitimate power exists because employees believe that their manager has the right to give orders. Legitimate power is represented in the scenario by Employee 1. Employee trusts that his/her boss has the authority to say working late and on weekends is necessary. Employee 1 complies with these orders because of legitimate power. In this case the manager has power because the employee believes the manager has the right to be in control.

Coercive, reward, legitimate power are both formal powers. They are based on a person’s position within a company.
People who have specific skills or knowledge can influence others with expert power. Managers can become dependant upon one person’s specific skill or knowledge. These individuals can exercise power as a result of their specific...