Coercive Power

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Coercive Power

Public Administration

November 7, 2012

Coercive Power is that which is enforced by creating fear among subordinates. This source of power is no longer regularly used in the United States; however it does have quite a history. A prime example in recent American History of coercive power is the U.S. invasion of Grenada. I will discuss various forms of power including the use of threats and actual physical force. There are also a number of limitations along with costs associated with this source of power.

Physical source as a form of coercive power has a long history here in the United States as well as many other countries abroad. The Holocaust and the effects of Nazi Germany would be a historic example of coercive power; Jewish individuals were threatened into abiding by the Nazis and if they disobeyed they were generally killed on the spot, many were murdered for no reason at all. Another example would be the enforcement of Jim Crow laws in the 19th and 20th centuries. During this time white southerners had almost complete control over the blacks by means of threatening and following through with extreme violence.

Louis Kriesberg is known to have said “Coercion involves trying to make the other side yield by reason of fear or actual force.” Over the past several decades the use of coercive power has tempered off in the United States, with the exception of prison security, law enforcement and military forces. The use of coercive power by the military is widely accepted by U.S. citizens as a resource in defending our country against domestic and foreign attacks. An example of this would be the U.S. invasion of Grenada in October 1983 (named “Operation Urgent Fury”). The President at that time was Ronald Reagan and he received information that an airstrip was being built by Cuban Construction workers in Grenada. He was concerned that the airstrip may be used as a refueling station...
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