Theories of Organizational Power

Several theories have been emerged on organizational power. These theories of organizational power are discuss below:

  1. Power dependence theory
  2. Social exchange theory
  3. Strategic contingency theory
  4. Critical Contingencies Model
  5. Mintzberg’s theory

All these four theorizes are discussed in the following paragraphs:

Theories of organizational power

  1. Power Dependence Theory: This theory has been has been development by Richard Emerson. According to this theory, power is inherent in any social relationship in which one person is dependent on other. This dependence is directly proportional to ones motivational investment in the goals motivated by another. Sometimes this dependence is inversely proportional to the availability of those goals. We can explain in other words that if a person has something we want badly and we cannot get if any other place, but that person has power over us. The main components of this theory are a social between two parties and resources (commodities, goals, rewards etc.) which are controlled by one parity and directed by another.
  2. Social Exchange Theory: The social exchange theory has been developed by French and Raven. This theory states that, what goes on between persons is the outcome of exchange of social commodities. These commodities include:
  • love  
  • hate  
  • respect  
  • power  
  • influence  
  • information  
  • praise
  • blame  
  • attraction  
  • rejection and so forth.

In case of exchange relationship when what we receive others is equivalent to or in excess of what we must give to others. When the net balance for us in positive, we will continue the exchange relationship otherwise we will terminate the exchange relationship, social interaction represents an exchange of social goods and services.

Theories of Organizational Power

Theories of Organizational Power

3. Strategic contingency Theory: Salancik and Pfeffer proposed this theory of organizational power. This theory/model asserts that power is an organization which accrues to the sub units (individuals, units, department etc.). These sources include:

  • Control of Resource
  • Control of technical skill
  • Control of a body of knowledge
  • Legal prerogatives and
  • Access to powerful people

If all these conditions favor and sources are available, power can be used properly.

4.  Critical Contingencies Model: This model of power has been discussed by D.J Hickson and his associated C.R. Hinnings, C.A. Lee, R.H. Scheack and J.M. Pennings. According to this model three contingency factors can help to gain intergroup power.

In the following figure these contingencies and power relations are shown. It is most important for solving the organizational problems. The problems created form environmental uncertainties many be solved by using this power.

This theory supports the notion that those who have something highly valued by others might have power. This type of power is considered something as special expertise that is needed for organizational survival.

5.  Mintzberg’s Theory: Henry Mintzbetg has designed this theory. This theory of power is built on the premise that organizational behavior is a power game in which various players (influences) wants to control company decisions and activities.

Three conditions are supposed to be fulfilled for the exercise of power. These conditions are:

  • Some sources or bases of power
  • The expenditure of energy
  • Politically skillful way
  • According to Mintzberg, five sources of power can help the executives to control the situation.

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