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Power & Politics in Organizations

Power & Politics in Organizations

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Power & Politics in Organizations

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  1. Power & Politics in Organizations • Professor Stephen Standifird • GSBA 594 • Welcome, I’m glad you’re here! • Today’s Agenda • Go over syllabus, in detail • Establish ground rules for the class • Identify your perceptions of power and politics • Introduce French & Raven

  2. Syllabus Overview • Course Description and Objectives • Reading Material - 3 books, 5 articles • Evaluation • Class Participation (40%) • Personal Assignments (60%) • Reading the material (100%) • Course Outline • Assignments designed to follow content • Content follows the readings

  3. Ground Rules for Class • First Rule • My job is to facilitate, NOT participate (Most of my opinions are accurately reflected in the readings) • I will NOT be lecturing on the material • Second Rule • You MUST read the material and attend the class in order to effectively participate • Third Rule • Everyone is expected to participate and all participants should be treated with respect

  4. Ground Rules for Participation • Be on time and ready to work (having read the material) • Making comments that encourages further discussion (person attacks or comments that discourage disagreement are not appropriate) • Introduce questions into the conversation (your questions will often help to facilitate further discussion) • Clearly state your opinions and feel free to disagree with yourself later in the discussion • It is OK (even preferred) to disagree (with yourself and with others) • Attack ideas but never attack the individual sharing the ideas • Recognizing and accepting the diverse opinions of our class • Listen and refer respectfully to the comments made by others

  5. Your Perceptions of Power and Politics • What is Power? • What is Politics?

  6. French and Raven (1959):The Basis of Social Power • Power is influence (measured as the maximum possible influence of O over P) • Power is more than your formal position • Social Power (the power to influence others) comes in many forms • Reward Power, Coercive Power, Legitimate Power, Referent Power, and Expert Power

  7. Reward Power • Influence based on the ability to reward (money CAN be a source of power) • Resistance = None, usually • Appropriateness = Generally OK • State Change = No, requires constant attention

  8. Coercive Power • Influence based on the ability to punish (might makes right) • Resistance = Potentially quite strong • Appropriateness = Often not • State Change = No, could provoke strong negative response

  9. Legitimate Power • Influence based on the legitimate right of someone to influence others (often embedded in position, always complex) • Resistance = Usually quite low • Appropriateness = Yes, by definition • State Change = Often involves a state change

  10. Referent Power • Influence by example, peer pressure power (I want to be like Mike) • Resistance = None • Appropriateness = Generally OK • State Change = Very much so

  11. Expert Power • Influence based on the ability to convince others to follow your good advice (information is power) • Resistance = Generally low • Appropriateness = Generally OK • State Change = Not really

  12. Discussion Questions • What is your opinion on the bases identified? • Are there sources of power not identified by the author? • Which of the bases identified would you feel most comfortable using? • Which of the bases identified are most important and/or useful for the average manager? • If you were planning to take over the world, which of the bases identified would you find most useful? • How might this information be helpful to you personally? • What information/understanding am you still missing in order to make this information useful?

  13. Today’s Agenda • It’s all about “The Prince” • A brief historical background • A summary of key principles • Discussion

  14. The Prince - A Historical Background • Written in 1513 (long time ago) • He had been a bureaucrat/advisor to rulers • Suddenly found himself without a job • Wrote The Prince and dedicated it to Lorenzo the Magnificent of the Medicis • Setting the stage for long-term power of a KING • Guaranteed never to be employed again • Even if following advice, could not admit it

  15. The Prince - Summary Principles • Very action oriented • Do it by whatever means necessary • But “look” good while you are doing it • Make others dependent on you • But do not become dependent on any one else or leave anyone in position to challenge you • This does not mean you should be cruel • However, it does not mean you should strive to be loved • You can not isolate yourself from others but must pick your confidants carefully

  16. The Prince - Summary Principles • The life of a change oriented person is particularly challenging • Thus, it is particularly important for the change agent to establish themselves as powerful • Unfortunately, many leaders will have a difficult time during periods of change • Such is the cruel reality of life

  17. The Prince - Your Thoughts? • Like it, hate, somewhere in between? • The underlying assumptions of “The Prince”? • Do you agree with these assumptions? • If not, does this change your opinion of “The Prince”? • Is it better to be feared or loved? What are Machiavelli’s assumptions here? Is this a valid question? • Your thoughts on Machiavelli’s discussion of “Change”? • How applicable is Machiavelli today? • What, if anything, is missing?

  18. Subgroup Exercise/Role Play • Group One: Machiavelli Discredited • Why Machiavelli’s work no longer applies. Indeed, it would be detrimental for a manager to apply Machiavelli’s work in today’s environment. • Group Two: In Defense of Machiavelli • Why Machiavelli’s writings are every bit as applicable today as they were in the early 1500s. Indeed, managers would be wise to follow Machiavelli’s advice.

  19. Machiavelli vs French & Raven • What “sources of power” as described by French & Raven are also discussed in “The Prince”? • What “sources of power” as described by French & Raven are not discussed in “The Prince”? • Do you see this as a major oversight or merely a different way of viewing power?

  20. Machiavelli vs French & Raven • What are the advantages associated with the sources of power identified in “The Prince”? • What are the disadvantages associated with the sources of power identified in “The Prince”? • What are the potential problems associated with ignoring the “other” sources of power? • What does this all say about the applicability of Machiavelli’s work?

  21. Influence: Science and Practice • Chapter One: Introduction to Click, Whirr • Notable Quotables: • “We need shortcuts… We will accept their imperfections since there is really no other choice.” (p. 7) • “They make us terribly vulnerable to anyone who does know how they work.” (p. 10) • “The ability to manipulate without the appearance of manipulation.” (p. 12) • “The advantage… efficiency and economy. The disadvantage… vulnerability to silly and costly mistakes.” (p. 17)

  22. Influence: Science and Practice • General thoughts, comments or questions on the idea of click, whirr responses? • Why is this information important? • How should we be looking at this information? • How can we make ourselves less vulnerable to click, whirr responses? • How can we (should we) use this information to influence others? • Simple messages are the best way to influence others. Yes, No? Why?

  23. Focus of Readings • How might this information be used (for good or for evil)? • How can we make sure this information is not used against us?

  24. Reciprocity: Give and TAKE • Notable Quotables: • “A person can trigger a feeling of indebtedness by doing us an uninvited favor - an obligation to receive.” (p. 30-31) • “Highly disagreeable to be in a state of obligation.” (p. 34) • “As long as it is not viewed as an obvious trick, the concession will likely stimulate a return concession.” (p. 45) • “The rule says favors are to be met with favors; it does not require that tricks be met with favors.” (p. 47)

  25. Reciprocity: Give and TAKE • General thoughts? • How does this fit with Machiavelli’s discussion? • How can this be used to help someone develop a sustainable power position? • “Be kind to others and you will receive good Karma.” • Giving gifts to get donations to a worthy cause. Is this an appropriate use of the reciprocity response? • How to defend yourself from the reciprocity response? • How to use the reciprocity response to your favor?

  26. Commitment and Consistency • Notable Quotable: • “If I can get you to make a commitment, I will have set the stage for your automatic and ill-considered consistency with that earlier commitment” (p. 61) • “You can use small commitments to manipulate a person’s self-image” (p. 67) • “We accept responsibility when we think we have chosen to perform in the absence of strong outside pressure” (p. 82) • “Securing an initial commitment is the key” (p. 96) • “Commitments are most effective when they are active, public, effortful, and viewed as internally motivated” (p. 96)

  27. Commitment and Consistency • General thoughts? • How to defend yourself from the commitment trap? • How to use the commitment trap to your favor? • How can this be used to help someone develop a sustainable power position? • How can this information be used for good? • Can this information explain the high level of divorce in the US as compared to many other countries?

  28. Social Proof • Notable Quotable: • “We view a behavior as correct in a given situation to the degree that we see other performing it” (p. 100) • “Works best when the proof is provided by the actions of many other people” (p. 103) • “Works best under two conditions. The first is uncertainty. The second is similarity” (p. 140) • “No leader can hope to persuade, regularly and single-handedly, all the members of the group. The most influential leaders are those who know how to arrange the group conditions to allow the principle of social proof to work in their favor” (p. 133)

  29. Social Proof • General thoughts? • How to defend yourself from social proof? • How to use social proof to your favor? • How can this be used to help someone develop a sustainable power position? • How can this information be used for good? • What are the dangers of using social proof as a mechanism of influence?

  30. Liking: The Friendly Thief Notable Quotable: • “A halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way that person is viewed by others,” for example physical attractiveness (p. 148) • “We like people who are similar to use… in areas of opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle” (p. 150) • “An innocent association with either bad things or good things will influence how people feel about us” (p. 162) • “Upon recognizing that we like a requestor inordinately well, we should step back from the social interaction, mentally separate the requester from his or her offer, and make any compliance decision based solely on the merits of the offer” (p. 1176)

  31. Liking: The Friendly Thief • General thoughts? • How to defend yourself from Liking? • How to use Liking to your favor (let’s be specific)? • How can this be used to help someone develop a sustainable power position? • How can this information be used for good? • What are the dangers of using Liking as a mechanism of influence?

  32. Authority • Notable Quotable: • “When reacting to authority in an automatic fashion, there is a tendency to do so in response to the mere symbols of authority rather than to its substance” (p. 201) • “Titles are simultaneously the most difficult and the easiest symbols of authority to acquire” (p. 188) • “Finely styled and expensive clothes carry an aura of status and position, as do similar trappings such as jewlry and cars” (p. 195) • “Is this authority truly an expert? How truthful can we expect this expert to be?” (p. )

  33. Authority • General thoughts? • How to defend yourself from Authority? • How to use Authority to your favor? • How can this be used to help someone develop a sustainable power position? • How can this information be used for good? • What are the dangers of using Authority as a mechanism of influence?

  34. Scarcity • Notable Quotable: • “Opportunities seem more valuable when they are less available” (p. 205) • “People see a thing as more desirable when it recently has become less available than when it has been scarce all along” (p. 222) • “Not only do we want the same item more when it is scarce, we want it most when we are in competition for it” (p. 223) • “The joy is not in the experiencing of a scarce commodity but in the possessing of it” (p. 228)

  35. Scarcity • General thoughts? • How to defend yourself from Scarcity? • How to use Scarcity to your favor? • How can this be used to help someone develop a sustainable power position? • How can this information be used for good? • What are the dangers of using Scarcity as a mechanism of influence?

  36. Instant Influence • Notable Quotable: • “The pace of modern life demands that we frequently use shortcuts” (p. 234) • “The real treachery, and what we cannot tolerate, is any attempt to make a profit in a way that threatens the reliability of our shortcuts” (p. 239) • “The use of these triggers is not necessarily exploitative. It only becomes so when the trigger is not a natural feature of the situation but is fabricated by the practitioner” (p. 240)

  37. Managing with Power“Decisions & Implementation” “To say, a leader is preoccupied with power, is like saying that a tennis player is preoccupied with making shots his opponent cannot return. Of course leaders are preoccupied with power! The significant questions are: What means do they use to gain it? How do they exercise it? To what ends do they exercise it?” (p12)

  38. Managing with Power“Decisions & Implementation” • Against hierarchy – non-cooperative and vulnerable to the will of one • Against culture – tough to build and non-adaptive • Against decision making – not enough by itself “We almost invariably spend more time living with the consequences of our decisions than we do making them . . . it would seem at least useful to spend more time implementing decisions and dealing with their ramifications.” (p19)

  39. Managing with Power“Decisions & Implementation” • “It is my thesis that problems of implementation are, in many instances, problems in developing political will and expertise – the desire to accomplish something, even against opposition, and the knowledge and skills that make it possible to do so.” (p7-8) • “In evaluating a leader, the key question about his behavioral traits is not whether they are attractive or unattractive, but whether they are useful.” (p13)

  40. Managing with Power“Decisions & Implementation” Power Process: 1. Decide what your goals are. 2. Diagnose patterns of dependence and interdependence. 3. Analyze views of powerful individuals. 4. Determine the power base of potential influential persons. 5. Determine your power base. 6. Determine which power strategies/tactics seems most appropriate/effective. 7. Choose the appropriate course of action.

  41. Managing with Power“Decisions & Implementation” • It’s all (or at least mostly) about power. True/False? • “The decisions are not as important as the implementation.” Your thoughts? • “In evaluating a leader, the key question about his behavioral traits is not whether they are attractive or unattractive, but whether they are useful.” Do you agree? • The “Power Process.” Does this make sense? Can you use this information? What’s missing?

  42. Managing with Power“When Is Power Used” • “All these data together suggest that power is more important in major decisions . . . for domains in which performance is more difficult to assess . . . and in instances in which there is likely to be uncertainty and disagreement." (p37) • “Power is used more frequently under conditions of moderate interdependence.” (p38)

  43. Managing with Power“When Is Power Used” • “One factor that is critical in affecting the nature and the amount of interdependence is the scarcity of resources. Slack resources reduce interdependence, while scarcity increases it.” (p40) • “The greater the task specialization in the organization, the more likely there will be disagreement.” (p42) • “Serious disagreements . . . are more likely to emerge in the absence of clear objectives or in the absence of an external threat or competition sufficient to cause subunits to work together.”

  44. Managing with Power“When Is Power Used” Summary List of Power Creating Circumstances: • The Big Three 1. When resources are scarce2. When goals and objectives are unclear 3. When performance is difficult to measure • Less Critical Factors 4. Where there are minimal external threats5. Where there exists a certain level of dependency6. Where there is moderate to high uncertainty

  45. Managing with Power“When Is Power Used” • “The appearance of power can actually provide power, and thus these efforts to maintain the symbols of power are significant.” (p45) • “Your success in an organization depends not only on your intelligence, industriousness, and luck, but also on the match between your political skills and what is required in the position you occupy.” (p47) • “Most people search for positions in which their particular intellectual competencies and interests will be useful and important. But they seldom analyze jobs in terms of power and influence.” (p48) • Implicate here is the recognition that not all jobs require the same level of politicing – find what is right for you!

  46. Managing with Power“When Is Power Used” • What do you think about the list of “Power Creating Circumstances”? Anything missing? Anything you disagree with? Any one of these jump out at you? • Let’s get specific! Where/when is power likely to be most important/exercised? • “Your success in an organization depends not only on your intelligence, industriousness, and luck, but also on the match between your political skills and what is required in the position you occupy.” How do you go about finding the match between your political skills and what is required? How important is it that you do so?

  47. Managing with Power“Diagnosing Power in Orgs” “To be successful in getting things done in organizations, it is critical that you be able to diagnose the relative power of the various participants and comprehend the patterns of interdependence.” (p49) “There are three tasks required . . . • First, the relevant subunits or subdivisions must be identified. • Then, one must come up with some indicators of power and apply them to the identified units to assess their relative power ranking . . . • Finally, . . . the patterns of interdependence and interdependence among them must be considered in order to determine an effective course of action.” (p50)

  48. Managing with Power“Diagnosing Power in Orgs” Methods for Assessing Power: “Power is not employed when there are no differences in perspective, or when no conflict exists, As a consequence, power is most readily diagnosed by looking at important decisions, which involve interdependent activities and which lead to disagreement.” • Listen to statements made by others • Focus on how others talk about the person • Don’t trust what you hear BUT don’t underestimate the value of “the talk.”

  49. Managing with Power“Diagnosing Power in Orgs” • Look at representational indicators • Whose being brought in on the major decisions • Observe Consequences • Who gets the resources, projects approved, the biggest budget • Look at Symbols of Power • What perks to certain people/groups get? • Who’s having dinner with whom? • What parking spaces do people get? • Office space is always an issue • Rule based responses don’t tell you much - look for subtle clues

  50. Managing with Power“Diagnosing Power in Orgs” “Be conservative in your estimates; it is preferable to overestimate potential dependencies rather than to be surprised at the last minute by a person or group you failed to consider; the best surprise is no surprise.”