Sources of Power in Organization

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If you want to use your power effectively, learnt about the other parry’s needs, interests, and goals. AllenR.Cohen.

Power basically is the function of dependency which does not require goal compatibility. In the words of Max Weber:
“Power is the probability that one actor within the relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance.”

“Power refers to a capacity that one has to influence the behavior of other so that other does something he or she would not otherwise do.” According to Bass and Stogdill:

In the words of Honore de Balzac:
“Power is not revealed by striking hard or often,but by striking true.”


Formal Power
Personal Power

Formal Power

Formal power, also known as Positional power, emerges from the position that an individual holds in an organization. Thus, it is similar to authority that vests in a position. This may include to give rewards, to inflict punishment, and to share information with others. The position holder, depending on his style of working, may use the power to gain the control over others, of course, within the overall framework provided by the organization.

Positional power may be of four types:

Coercive Power
Reward Power
Legitimate Power

Coercive Power
The coercive power base is dependent on fear. It rests upon the application or the threat of application of physical sanctions. In organizational situation, it may be in the form of action for or threat for dismissal, suspension, demotion, or other method of embarrassment for the people.

Reward Power
Reward power is opposite of coercive power. It is based on one’s control and allocation of material resources and rewards. This power is based on the old saying that ‘wealth is power’. In the organization situation, this power is based on the control of salaries, wages, commissions, fringe benefits, and amenities. Reward power may be in the form of normative power also. The symbolic rewards may be in the form of prestige, affection, esteem etc.

Legitimate Power
In formal groups and organizations, probably the most frequent access to one or more of the power bases is one’s structural position. This is called legitimate power. It represents the formal authority to control and use organizational resources. It commonly held values allowing one person to have power over another person. Such legitimacy may be either formal, as is the case with the organization, or may be informal, as is the case with social units. In organizational setting, this legitimacy is in the form of authority, which is delegated to the positions of organizational members. Though a person may derive authority from other sources in the organization, the superior-subordinate relationship is enough to comply subordinates’ behavior as directed, particularly in bureaucratic organizations.

Personal Power:

For having power, you don’t need a formal position in an organization. Many of the most competent and productive chip designers in many organizations have power but they aren’t managers and have no formal power. What they have is personal power – power that comes form an individual’s unique characteristics. These qualities help him in persuading others to follow him willingly. Because of followers’ willingness, an individual with personal power often can inspire greater loyalty and dedication in followers than someone who has only positional power.

Personal power may be of two types:

Expert Power
Referent Power

Expert Power
The influence of this power is based on the special skills or knowledge. Expertise has become one of the most powerful sources of influence as the world has become more technologically oriented. Expert power is based on the famous proverb ‘knowledge is power’. Expert power is that influence which one wields as...
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