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Sources of Power in an Organisation

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  • Moumka Eirini

It is not possible to present the meaning of an organization by leaving aside the three very important organizational terms. Those organizational terms are power, authority and influence and even though they may seem invisible they affect in great dept the organizational operations. Examine the terms separately authority can be understood as a capability to exercise influence. At the same time on the one hand influence is exercises where a person, group or organization changes the values, attitudes, behavior priorities and values while power is the capability to exercise influence in these ways. Both of these three terms are closely linked with one another and they help the organization to operate its everyday functions. Also, the terms can be seen as a way of measure manager’s power and authority inside the organizational environment.

Getting deeper to the definition of power at first it has to be understood where the power appears within an organization. As it can be seen, each department, group or division is consisted by its own power base which is limited and structured by the organization environment and conditions. Furthermore, organizations and their managers have to be informed about how their decisions affect different components of the organization.

At first it has to be defined the sources and kinds of power that can be appeared inside the organization territory. The first kind of power that is spotted is the power produced by individuals in order to influence the outcome of meetings and decisions and generally to dominate satiations is called physical and coercive power. The second kind of power is the power held by expertise (a group or an individual) and is depended upon the kind of involvement (the level, the nature, the location and their willingness to use their skill). The third kind of power is the power found in all the levels of the organization (division, departments and functions) and the society and it is called charismatic power. Furthermore, charismatic power or charisma is used when it people have to be inspired by something in order to be motive and to increased their confidence levels. This can only be achieved by people that they can affect others by their personality, elsewhere can be applied by those that they are charismatic. The forth kind of power spotted within an organization is the one that can influence the others through the command of resources. This it is called the resource power and it has two sides, a positive and beneficial one and negative coercive and a threatening side. The first side is concerned about the allocation of resources so to enable someone else to succeed which ends with a feeling of satisfaction to the resource giver while the seconded one is about the limitation or the cutting of particular resources when the receiver has not behaved properly. This specific kind of power is closely related to the power of reward which is the ability to influence behavior by offering rewards for compliance and acceptance. The opposite of the power of reward is the power of punished which depends upon the nature of the punishment and whether is it important or not by those that are affected from it. The last form of power is the legal rational and positional which is cared about the direction of power, the ordering, the limitation and the influence in the name of the organization and it is based upon the values, rules norms and regulation of the business.

As it has been stated before an organization’s decisions may be influenced by different components and those components could be either internal or external but they can both affect in the same level of the organization’s functions and decisions. Such components could be pressure groups, lobbies or vested interest which bears on particular proposals and activities. Those groups may consist of managers, supervisors, experts, employees, representatives, trade unions or other cluster groups. These groups may also exist outside of the business, in the external environment in the same form but to be from other competitive organizations. From an internal perspective, pressure groups may arise from shareholders and other stakeholders due to proposals and decisions that have to be taken for the organization. Also over-mighty subjects or departments may force great levels of influence and autonomy in certain conditions. Over-mighty departments and over-mighty subjects both for operational reasons may occurred the first one when a department is required to act autonomously and the second one when the subjects (people) are required to act in the name of the organization in all work aspects. The issue that lies here is being created when over-mighty departments and subjects are placed overseas from an organizational head office or when the nature and the delivery of service is not specific and it is given with its broad and general meaning by the managing officials. Moreover, external consultancies or agencies when they are called or cited in they may support particular points of view and carry great influence especially when the organization is engaged in restructuring operations. In other cases like changes in working practices or restructuring of work trade unions may affect the organization’s decision making.

Additionally, from an external perspective, the organization is venerable to public pressure if they are engaged in harmful activities for the environment like the waste disposal or if they have developing a project that in not environmentally friendly or if the construction of the building does not fit with the environment that surrounds it. Furthermore, organizations as they are parts of a community they have to follow the rules of the country that are sited. This means that they should be developed according with specific standards that have been introduced by the country’s legislation. Being part of a community (of a country) also means that the organization is affected by the situation that occurs inside the community’s territory (economic crisis, development or underdevelopment, political situation) but is also affected from the events that occurred outside of it (like the political and economical situation of the other countries and the public opinion of these countries for the country that the organization is sited). Other external factors that may affect an organization is the technology, the culture and the globalization with the last two to affect not only decision making but also the culture of the organization itself. Having analyzed the above it is understood that an organization is directly affected from external factors being occurred and the decisions that has to make should always be in harmony with its external environment in order for the organization to run smoothly.

On the other side, it is very important not to forget that the decisions and the way that are being taken (with the different uses of power and the factors that influence the decision making) they have only one role, to keep the organization in a sustainable level. So, the only way to keep the organization in a sustainable level is through the introduction of innovative thinking and creativity inside the organization. To begin with, innovation is what keeps an organization to constantly develop itself in cultural and functional way, in other worlds is what make an organization to constantly strive to become better and better and this can only be achieved if the organization is open to risks. Creativity on the other hand, as Joseph V. Anderson has defined is “nothing more than going beyond the current boundaries, whether those are boundaries of technology, knowledge, current practices, social norms, or beliefs. Creativity is nothing more than seeing and acting on new relationships thereby bringing them to life”. (Anderson, 1992)

This concludes to the fact that building a culture of innovation and creativity helps the organization to think beyond its boundaries, leave aside the narrow-thinking and to engage and involve in continuously learning organization. Without these two very important factors an organization cannot fulfill its mission and to have complete strategy plan.

Apart from that, sustainability depends on how the organization conceives the hole concept of sustainability. That is why, some organizations sustainability means to constantly build a long-term relationship with their shareholders by contributing to a sustainable society. From other, sustainability is being achieved via the cooperation with other organizations and therefore the competitors in order to find the best way to deal with their challenges and find together the right solutions. Another feature that sustainable organizations have is that they are cooperating with their suppliers and they help to build a sustainable strategy. Such kinds of relationships have a two-side effect, the one on the organizations and the other to the suppliers. (Robert G. Eccles, 2012)

The stages that lead to the creation of a sustainable organization are the following. Firstly, there is the refraining of the company’s identity and to achieve this strong leadership commitment and external engagement must be present simultaneously. These two elements complete one another and the one cannot exist without the other in order for the organization to design a new identity. Secondly, there is the codyfing of the new identity that requires building internal support for the new identity and this can be achieved throughout the employee’s commitment and with the creation of execution mechanisms (managerial-supporting systems). Both of these steps are leading over time to the creation of a culture that will be based on change capabilities, trust and innovation and that will produce sustainability. (Robert G. Eccles, 2012)

Finally, it is clearly stated that power is present within an organization with different forms and for different uses every time even though it may not be clearly seen in the fist place. The influence that power has derives from different factors (internal and external ones) depending on the conditions that the organization is facing at a given moment and the sources of influence have the power to shape, control or shift the decisions that the organization needs to take in order to function properly. Lastly, an organization has to evolved in a continually learning organization and to succeed in this challenge has to adopt a sustainable organizational culture.

Bibliography

Amabile, 1996. In: Creativity in Context. New York: Westview Press.

Anderson, J. V., 1992. In: Weirder Than Fiction: The Reality and Myths of Fiction: Academy of Management Executive. s.l.:s.n., p. 41.

D.A Lubin, D. E., n.d. The Sustainability Imperative, s.l.: Harvard Business School.

Damanpour, F., 1995. In: Is your creative organisation innovative? . London.: Sage Publications.

Garcia, C., n.d. Innovation and creativity in organisations, s.l.: s.n.

King, N. a. A. N., 1995. In: Innovation and Change in Organisations. London: s.n.

Luecke, R. K. R., 2003. In: Managing Creativity and Innovation. s.l.:Harvard Business School Press.

Morris, W., n.d. Enhancing Organisational Creativity, s.l.: s.n.

Robert G. Eccles, K. M. P. G. S., 2012. MIT Sloan Management Review. [Online] Available at: http://3blmedia.com/media/other/HT-MIT-SUSTAINABLE-COMPANY.pdf [Accessed 15 5 2014].


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