Assignment Cover Sheet
School of Business
| Alen Marcic
Unit name and number:
| Power Politics and Knowledge
Tutorial day and time:
| Tuesday, 12:00-2:00
Title of assignment:
| Reflective Response
| Week 6, Tuesday
| Week 6, Thursday
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1. Regarding the theories of power examined in Week 2, which one do you think is most relevant to explain power-related phenomena in contemporary organisations? Explain why you find this particular theory relevant and illustrate with examples.
Michael Foucault was a French postmodernist who’s views on power have been highly influential in shaping understanding of power related phenomena in contemporary organisations. A key point about Foucault’s approach is that it transcends politics and sees power in a highly technical way.
Foucault’s conception of power can be compared to the weather, an ever-present source in one form or another and constantly changing. “Foucault is therefore at adds with theorists such as Webber and Hobbes, who see power as a centralized force used to maintain social order”. He goes on to argue that disciplinary power is exercised by those more powerful than their subordinates with an end goal of control. This is done through covert forces like managerial gaze and constant monitoring with ever advancing surveillance equipment and disciplinary methods. In his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, Foucault emphasizes that discipline was a widely used technique to control the masses, tracing its origin back to monasteries and armies alike, and is indeed a major factor in contemporary organisations. ‘Power is present in all human relationships and penetrates throughout society’ (Discipline and Punish, 1975).
Some examples of disciplinary power I have observed at different places of work include the monitoring of employee telephone, email and Internet usage by organisations. Swiping in and out via security pass is ever more present in the workplace, where even time spent in rest rooms is measured. An example outside the workplace however is the use of speed cameras to discipline drivers to abide by the speed limits in order to avoid an almost certain penalty for exceeding it. In conclusion, there are many modes of power exercised with different mechanisms in contemporary organisations, which ‘order and regulate employees (subjects) collectively and individually, defining and enforcing identities in the workplace’ (Townley 1994).
2. “The most basic prerequisite of power is that one person or group believes it is dependent on another person or group for a resource of value” (McShane et al 2013, p.318). Reflect on this claim from a critical perspective, and illustrate your answer with a real-life example derived from PPK materials or from your own experience or observation.
One of the most important factors to bear in mind when approaching the previous statement is that power is a two-way relationship. The...
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