Power Politics and Knowledge

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Question 1.
Steven Lukes perspective on power suggests power as a three dimensional concept. Luke’s view covers many management levels and power groups that exercise their power in the three dimensions discussed. Due to the differences in each dimension and its wide application to different situations, I believe it to be the most suitable power theory while observing power phenomenon within the workplace. The One Dimensional view of power focuses only on behavior in decision making, specifically on key issues and essentially only in observable situations. This view also implies that power is exerted where two parties within an organisational environment are in conflict with one another. Take for instance a situation between Manager A and Employee B. A has recently observed B as taking more breaks than what is allocated to employees. A has also noticed that this constant distraction is leading to a drop in production due to the inducement of other employees in doing the same. B is viewed as a senior amongst the other employees thus B is seen as possessing referent power. A however has legitimate power being the manager of the team and having the authority to exercise disciplinary action (Gordon 2011). Hence A gives B a verbal warning. Based on the fear of losing his/her position within the business, B reduces the frequency of breaks taken and therefore productivity increases.

Even though some may argue that equal opportunity laws and regulations curb discrimination in the workplace others would agree that such issues are now merely silenced as opposed to eliminated. In order to describe this further, consider Luke’s two dimensional view of power which focuses on decision-making and non-decision-making, where focus is based on the power holders ability to silence the issues that may threaten their hold on power. Let’s take for instance Director (A)and personal assistant B and Human Resources Manager C. B makes complaints to C regarding repetitive sexual advances made by A. C then calls a meeting with other HR team members to discuss how to tackle this situation. C decides that in order to protect the senior personnel of the business no action must be taken. Even though B was advised that investigations were taking place, in reality C was building a performance based case in order to performance manage B out of the organisation before matters would escalate. In this situation it can be said that C acting on behalf of A as who is the ultimate power holder, suppressed this sexual harassment issues in order to protect the power base of A.

Luke’s third dimension of power is centered on that notion of classical conditioning which implicates the shaping of perceptions, cognitions and preferences of the subjects of the power holder. Consider the actions of employee A who sits in close proximity to the manager as opposed to employee B who cannot be viewed by the manager whilst in seated position. Here it is observed that employee A’s productivity is observed to be much greater than that of employee B. In this situation it can be noted that employee A is conditioned to work faster and more effectively due to the fear that any less could result in disciplinary action as his activities can be directly viewed by the manager. However employee B feels less pressure due to the notion that his/her lack of productivity is not directly observable by the manager and hence lack of urgency and fear is observed.

Question 2.

A resource of value can be defined as knowledge, labour, money or any other tangible or non-tangible asset to an organisation. It can be agreed that for notion of power to exist in an individual’s mind, there must be an element of advantage or possession of value by the power holder to be able to impose power upon another. Thus It can be said that power is not uniformly distributed at all levels in the organisation howsoever it is centered to certain departments given their significance to the overall...
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