Need for Power

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 11 October 2016

Need for Power

The need for power is just one part of McClelland’s acquired needs theory. The Other Parts of the Theory are Need for Achievement and Need for Affiliation. I would like to stay and write about part The need for Power.

We can find little theory about this topic (The need for Power) in book Organizational Behavior on page 101. There is: A third major individual need is the need for power – the desire to control one´s environment, including financial, material, informational, and human resources. People vary greatly along this dimension. Some individuals spend much time and energy seeking power, other avoid power if at all possible. People with a high need for power can be successful managers if three conditions are met. First, they must seek power for the betterment of the organization rather than for their own interest. Second, they must have a fairly low need for affiliation because fulfilling a personal need for power may well alienate others in the workplace. Third, they need plenty of self-control to curb their desire for power when it threatens to interfere with effective organizational or interpersonal relationship.

Resources for this theory: David McClelland and David H. Burnham, “Power Is the Great motivator,“ Harward business Review, March-April 1976, pp. 100-110. Pinder, Work Motivation in Organizational Behavior, McClelland and Burnham, “Power Is the Great Motivator.“

We can identified four stages within the power orientation:

1) Drawing inner strength from others – being a loyal follower and serving the power of other people; 2) Strengthening oneself – beginning to play the power game, collecting symbols of status, one-upmanship, trying to dominate situations; 3) Self-assertiveness – becoming more aggressive and trying to manipulate situations so as to use other people to achieve one’s own targets; 4) Acting as an instrument of higher authority – identifying with some organization or authority system and employing the methods learnt in stages 2 and 3 but now being able to claim formal legitimacy.

Blake and Mouton (1964) would feature the kind of person who maximizes this kind of approach as having the ‘Authority – Obedience’ style of management: concentrating on maximizing production through the exercise of personal authority and power.

Individuals with a high need for power exhibit a number of characteristics. These individuals tend to be more argumentative. We can see in real life that they are often elected to political offices (member of government etc.). These individuals are also more assertive when a part of in-group discussions. They are known for displaying risk-taking behavior and they also tend to own more prestigious possessions such as expensive cars and credit cards. I think that this people tend to be and want to be on public display.

In examing the motive scores of over 50 managers of both high and low morale units in all sections of the same large company, we found that most of the managers – over 70% – were high in power motivation compared with men in general. This finding confirms the fact that power motivation is important for management. (Remember that as we use the term “power motivation”, it refers not to dictatorial behavior, but to a desire to have impact, to be strong and influential). The better managers, as judged by the morale of those working for them, tended to score even higher in power motivation. But the most important determing factor of high morale turned out not to be how their power motivation compared to their need to achieve but whether it was higher than their need to be liked. This relationship existed for 80% of the sales managers as compared with only 10% of the poorer managers. And the same held true for other managers in nearly all parts of the company.

In the research, product development, and operations divisions, 73% of the better managers had a stronger need for power than a need to be liked (or what we term “affiliation motive”) as compared with only 22% of the poorer managers. Why should this be so? Sociologists have long argued that, for a bureaucracy to function effectively, those who manage it must be universalistic in applying rules. That is, if they make exceptions for the particular needs of individuals, the whole system will break down.

The manager with a high need for being liked is precisely the one who wants to stay on good terms with everybody, and, therefore, is the one most likely to make exceptions in terms of particular needs. If an employee asks for time off to stay home with a sick spouse to help look after the kids, the affiliative manager, feeling sorry for the person, agrees almost without thinking. (I am personally this kind of manager. I have a high need for being liked. I think that if people have a confidence in the manager he can do more things – also not so popular – and the people will accept them and also him.)

When President Ford remarked in pardoning ex-President Nixon that he had “suffered enough”, he was empathizing primarily with Nixon´s needs and feeling. Sociological theory and our data both argue, however, that the person whose need for affiliation is high does not make a good manager. This kind of person creates poor morale because he or she does not understand that other people in the office will tend to regard exceptions to the rules as unfair

to themselves, just as many U.S. citizens felt it was unfair to let Richard Nixon off and punish others less involved than he was in the Watergate scandal.

Advantages / disadvantages There are both positive and negative aspects in regards to the need for power. Being argumentative can be perceived as an ideal expression of one’s opinion; although it can also create threatening environments for those of a more compliant nature. Having an assertive manner in group discussions can make others feel as though one is dominating a discussion within the group. However, this individual may have a profound impact on the group’s progress by assisting in accomplishing tasks more efficiently. Participating in risk-taking behavior can allow an individual to experience more radical events in their life, but sometimes risk-taking behavior can lead to undesirable consequences. Owning luxurious items tends to be costly, even though these possessions may make one feel good about themselves and their lives.

My conclusion

The need for power is good if it is useful for organization and also if the manager can use some kind of humanity to the other. For manager figure is very important the confidence. The people (other) must confidence in him and then they will better in accept his conclusion.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 11 October 2016

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