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Management Power and Change Essay

1 Abstract

The dynamics of power relations and their effects on organizational change was often underestimated by researchers. Analyses of the role played by power in organizational change are increasing in intensity, scale and impact (Munduate and Bennebroeck-Gravenhorst 2003). The appropriate and effective use of power is fundamental for managers engaged in major change processes. This report deals with the topic of management power and change. It focuses on the exercise of power and its function in organizational change. At first power and change management will be defined and then the bases or sources of power and the responses which are provoked according to the type of power being applied .how power can be used to influence and facilitate organizational change.

2 Definition of Power

There are many variations to the definition of power and there are disagreements on its definition and what the best way is to measure it. The definition also depends on the context in which power is used. In this case, since the report focuses on the explanation of the use of power in the setting of organizational change, power is “the potential ability to influence behavior, to change the course of events, to overcome resistance, and to get people to do things that they would not otherwise do” (Pfeffer, 1993: 204-5).

2.1 Power and Influence

In trying to understand how change is achieved, social psychologists have used the concepts of social power and influence (Raven 1999) and therefore the terms power and influence are sometimes used synonymously, but there are discrepancies between them. Social power indicates the various tools a person has to influence the environment or the other party, while influence is referring to the actual use of a specific tool in a particular situation (Munduate and Medina 2009). According to French and Raven (1959) influence is a force one person (the leader or agent) exerts on someone else (follower or target) to induce a change in the latter, including changes in behaviors, attitudes, and values. Social power was subsequently defined as the potential ability of a person to influence someone else.

“Basically, influence is the effect a person’s actions have on the attitudes, values, beliefs, or behavior of others. Whereas power is the capacity to cause a change in a person, influence may be thought of as the degree of actual change” (Daft, 2006: 679-680). Boddy defines influence as the process by which one party attempts to modify the behavior of others by mobilizing power resources. Hence, in order to apprehend the function of the change agent in the promotion of change in an organization, the reactions of the targets involving a proactive disposition toward change have to be considered first and then the available tools for the change agent to influence the targets (Munduate and Medina 2009).

2.3 Types of Influence Processes

There are clear differences in the way followers comply to direct and indirect social pressure from a leader and actually being convinced by him. In one case the influence may just be sufficient to exercise control over the followers’ behavior, guaranteeing a public agreement no matter if the followers are privately convinced. In another case the influence could be so strong that it changes the followers’ opinion and merely makes him committed to the leader’s request. Consequently, different types of influences have been proposed by social psychologists, whereby the most important was Kelman’s distinction (1961) between compliance, internalization, and identification.

2.4 Bases of Power

For a manager to be effective, he has to possess a source of power which he can use to influence employees to take actions or carry out orders which they would not have done in the absence of that power source.

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