Five Bases of Power

Topics: Power, Authority, Management Pages: 2 (511 words) Published: March 7, 2013
Five Bases of Power
In 1960, social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven identified what has become known as the five bases of power. Coercive power carries with it a manifestation of fear based on the possible negative outcomes of this power and if the subject did not comply with the orders given. This formal base of power is effective in the short term only; and in contrast, more often leads to rebellion against authority rather than respect and compliance based on respect. This base of power creates a general feeling of fear and uneasiness among employees and can be detrimental to the morale of the employees and the company. When employees share a general consensus that a manager or supervisor has a right to give out orders because of this job title and company position this formal base of power is referred to as legitimate. Individuals who are given a position of importance such a policemen, managers and other figures of authority are possessors of legitimate power. The president of the company giving orders to a receptionist at the front desk of the company building is an example of legitimate power. Reward power carries with it the ability to reward or give benefit to others. This is a formal base of power that is one of the fastest ways to persuade someone into doing something. Reward power can be an incredible motivator; however, it must be used in moderation. When reward power is used to freely and too often it can lead to unethical behavior on the employee’s part in an effort to gain rewards by rigging systems or padding numbers and quotas. Referent power often influences employees who may not be particularly aware that they are modeling their behavior on that of the manager and using what they presume he or she would do in such a situation as a point of reference. Many managers or people in a power setting dress to the company role they are in. This makes identifying those individuals easier but also can block out the referent power held by...
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