Power in Organizations
Carson, Paula Phillips, Carson, Kerry David, Knight, E Leon Jr, Roe, C William. Quality Progress. Milwaukee: Nov 1995. Vol. 28, Iss. 11; pg. 73, 6 pgs
Copyright American Society for Quality Control Nov 1995
IN A TOTAL QUALITY ENVIRONMENT, THE empowered employee alters the traditional supervisor-subordinate relationship. Instead of passively executing orders, empowered employees assume both the responsibility and authority necessary to anticipate and respond to workplace problems.(1) Because total quality management (TQM) is a relatively new philosophy, managers are often perplexed about how to supervise empowered employees. While managers may understand that empowerment does not equate with the total abdication of their authority or accountability, they may not know how best to exercise their power in this new environment. Attempts have been made to theoretically model (2) and measure the process of empowerment, (3) but current research has yet to investigate the relationship between supervisory power and employee empowerment.
Because of its intuitive. appeal and practicability, J.R.P. French and B. Raven's conceptualization of social power is the framework most widely accepted by researchers investigating leader influence. (4) These two social psychologists identified five distinct power bases:
* Coercive power. The employee's perception that the manager can mediate punishment.
* Legitimate power. The employee's perception that the manager has the authority to prescribe behavior.
* Reward power. The employee's perception that the manager can mediate rewards.
* Referent power. The employee's identification with and attraction to the manager.
* Expert power. The employee's perception that the manager possesses unique or rare knowledge or skills.
Managers exercise various types of social power to facilitate employee execution of requests and instructions. How employees respond to these requests and