Kotter (1977, p.125) stated that "A misunderstanding is becoming increasingly burdensome because in today's large and complex organizations the effective performance of most managerial jobs requires one to be skilled at the acquisition and use of power".
Regardless of the organization type, one of the basic roles of an organization is to transmit knowledge, opportunities, and regulations of work from a manager to a subordinate employee (Koslowsky and Stashevsky, 2005). The cost of such influence process has been explored in research and was defined as "power" (Koslowsky and Stashevsky, 2005). Power is viewed as a precious asset that many businesses try to acquire (Erkutlu and Chafra, 2006) and is thought to have an effect on managements' actions and employees' reactions (Tjosvold and Sun, 2005).
When a leader exercises power, it could lead to many possible outcomes depending on the bases of power used, the method in which it was applied, and both the leader and the subordinate's individual characteristics (e.g. personality traits) (Moorhead & Griffin, 1998). Thus, power within an organization to a great extent, is dependent on employees' behaviors and attitudes. Power resides in the individual and is independent of that individual's position (Shermerhorn, et. al., 2004).
On the other hand, personality traits are viewed as significant and powerful variables, and are perceived as the most central psychological tools for directing and controlling behavior (Heinstrom, 2003).
According to Kipnis and Schmidt (1988) the effective use of power by managers leads to positive outcomes. However, power within managerial contexts can be positive i.e. enabling change to take place, or negative causing change or advancement to be blocked. Power can then be explained by the manager's ability to manipulate the feelings, purposes, values, and behaviors of subordinates (French and Raven, 1959). It is then imperative that we understand how personality traits influence the nature of power a person observes and uses.
Power by definition, is the capacity to apply influence over others. It is the ability to get someone to do what you want done or the ability to make things happen in the way you want them to happen (Shermerhorn, et. al., 2004; Pfeffer, 1992). However, power is not a tool for altering others' attitudes and behaviors if they are not able and willing.
Power is a force that can induce change in the behavior of others. As a result, organizational development and innovation often requires obtaining the power necessary to induce change or to overcome resistance (Erkutlu and Chafra, 2006).
An individual's power in the organization originates from interpersonal bases (position, qualities, and expertise), and/or structural and situational bases (i.e. control over resources, formal authority, and control over information) (French & Raven, 1959; Kanter, 1982; Kotter, 1977). French & Raven (1959) proposed five different bases of power: reward, coercive, expert, legitimate, and referent. Reward power originates from the individual's ability to determine who will receive the rewards valued by others (tangible benefits or status symbols) and to eliminate unpleasant sanctions that is negative reinforcement (Robbins and Judge, 2008; McShane and Glinow, 2005; Erkutlu and Chafra, 2006). Its bases can be traced to the Expectancy Theory of Motivation i.e. a direct relation exists between performance and rewards. Coercive power, stems from the expectation of punishment (Robbins and Judge, 2008), physically or psychologically, (Kreitner and Kinicki, 2004) if the individual does not act in accordance with given requirements, desires or demands.
On the other hand, legitimate power is derived from an individual's structural position that gives him/her the right to command obedience. However, it is restricted to the extent that the person who controls power is perceived as being legitimate (McShane and Glinow, 2005; Chuck, 2009). Expert power originates from the individual's own personality features, and qualities (Robins and Judge, 2008). It is the skill of influencing other individuals by having unique skills, knowledge, capability or proficiency that is of value to them (McShane and Glinow, 2005). Finally, referent power is identifying with a person you admire, and wish to be like (Ambur, 2000). It originates from the individual's possessed personal characteristics, mostly depends on his/her interpersonal skills, and expands gradually through time. In many situations, it is associated with charisma and often involves willingness to follow, trust, affection, similarity, and emotional involvement (McShane and Glinow, 2005). That is why it may dissolve rapidly if the relationship is re-evaluated negatively by followers.
It is important to note that power bases produce power only in specific situations (McShane and Glinow, 2005). These situations are obligatory since they create the extent to which power holders have influences. They include: substitutability of resources; centrality i.e. the extent to which there is interdependence between those who hold power and others; visibility; and discretion or the choice the individual has when making decisions and providing judgments without prior recognition or agreement from superior;. These contingencies are not sources of power but determine how people can control and leverage their power bases.
Ryckman (1982, p. 5) defined Personality as the "dynamic and organized set of characteristics of a person that uniquely influences his/her cognitions, motivations, and behaviors". This concept represents behavioral and cognitive prototypes that have been proven stable through time and in different settings (Cattell, 1964). Thus, we can rationally anticipate that personality traits manipulate personal attitudes and values, as most current pragmatic studies have confirmed (Olver and Mooradian, 2003).
Personality traits have recently become both popular and an accepted means for explaining individuals' behavior, i.e. actions, manners, targets, and purposes (Llewellyn and Wilson, 2003). It helps identify the reasons for individuals' different reactions to similar situations (Cooper, 1998). According to Havaleschka (1999) it is imperative that we understand the behavior of individuals since the success or failure of a business relies on the make up of the personalities of both managers and employees in the work group.
In recent years, the bases that form our personality introduced by McCrae and Costa (1982) also known as the BIG Five, have gained popularity as a basic framework for identifying and classifying traits (Sodiya et.al., 2007). Research has revealed that the Big Five are strong predictors of work behavior across cultures, time, and contexts (Robbins & Judge, 2008; Barrick & Mount, 1991). These traits were presented in a model termed the Five-Factor Model (FFM) which "describes the human personality sphere in a parsimonious and comprehensive way" (Leung & Bozionelos, 2004, p.63). The model comprises the following traits: Agreeableness, Extroversion, Emotional Stability, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience (Goldberg, 1990). However, the emphasis in this research will be on the two personality traits--mainly neuroticism and agreeableness.
This dimension demonstrates how individuals can relate to others and how considerate are they of others' opinions and feelings. Without agreeableness, individuals tend to be cold, disagreeable, and aggressive. Highly agreeable individuals are warm, trusting, and cooperative.
This trait relates to one's ease with relationships. Extroverts are more likely to be friendly, sociable, confident, and outgoing, while introverts are reserved, quiet, shy, and distant.
Frequently known by its opposite, neuroticism, signifies an individual's ability to resist stress. Individuals having high emotional stability are more likely to be secure, calm, and self-confident. On the other hand, individuals scoring low on emotional stability are more likely to be worried, nervous, depressed, and unconfident.
This trait is a determinant of reliability. A highly conscientious person is persistent, organized, dependable, and responsible. Low conscientious individuals are distracted easily, unreliable, and disorganized.
Openness to experience
Openness to experience deals with one's attraction and interests with new things. Highly open individuals are sensitive, imaginative, inquisitive, and creative. Those low on openness to experience are conservative and are more comfortable with familiar environments.
Personality and Power
Agreeable individuals tend to be sympathetic and are not hostile towards others. Agreeable individuals are pleasant, tolerant, warm, cooperative, flexible, modest, and tactful (Barrick & Mount, 1991). Those high in agreeableness are usually easy to get along with and perform extremely well in circumstances that require collaboration or interaction with others (Hough, 1992; Barrick & Mount, 1991). They tend to have less aggression and are reliable, emotionally stable, and conform (Clarke & Roberston, 2005). Agreeableness is useful in attaining and maintaining popularity. Highly agreeable individuals tend to have better interpersonal relationships (Asendorf & Wilpers, 1998). In work settings, these individuals show a higher level of interpersonal capability (Witt et al., 2002) and are more likely to collaborate effectively in groups. A study by Asendorf & Wilpers (1998) on the effects of personality on social relationships found that individuals who scored low in agreeableness compared to those who scored high, tended to use more power for resolving social conflict.
The correlation between agreeableness and work involvement imply that low agreeableness individuals tend to be more engaged with their work hoping to satisfy their ego needs by trying to advance their careers (Bozionelos, 2004). Keeping in mind that agreeableness has been positively related to work performance (Salgado, 1997), it is then possible that those with low agreeableness scores, do not display the kind of involvement needed on the job and thus their performance will suffer. From the above, we can then predict the following:
H1: Reward power is positively related to agreeableness.
H2: Legitimate power is positively related to agreeableness
H3: Referent power is positively related to agreeableness.
H4: Expert power is positively related to agreeableness.
Individuals with high scores on emotional stability, are more likely to be cheerful, calm, and even-tempered than low scorers (Ones & Viswesvaran, 1997). These individuals tend not to display their emotions, and are less depressed or anxious. The opposite of emotional stability is neuroses. It is a form of emotional instability (McCrae & John, 1992) rather than a psychiatrical defect (Heinstrom, 2003). It includes: impulsiveness, resentment, depression, self-consciousness, and anxiety. Individuals high in neuroticism tend to have less performance and cognitive abilities (Mathews et al, 1991), experience higher stress levels, are pre-occupied with their anxieties and worries rather than with the task at hand, make more errors, and do not seek active control of their environment (Judge, 1993; Hansen, 1989).
Some of the characteristics associated with neuroticism include: insecurity, pessimism, nervousness, low confidence, and tendency to worry too much. Since individuals with high neuroticism tend to negatively interpret experiences and are pessimistic, they are more likely to develop negative attitudes towards their work and career. A recent meta- analytic research by Judge and Ilies (2002) concluded that work performance motivation and neuroticism are negatively correlated. In addition, Furnham and Rawles (1999) suggest that those with high scores in neuroticism tend to attach more importance to hygiene work related factors such as working conditions and security more than motivating factors like work itself and opportunities for achievement. According to an empirical study by Malouff et al. (1990), individuals who score high on neuroticism, tend to be less goal- oriented.
Emotionally stable individuals tend to focus on behavioral skills when interacting with others i.e. interpersonal competence. However, highly neurotic individuals are more self conscious, highly self-monitor (Ang et al., 2006), emotionally reactive, and would explain normal situations as threatening and slight stressors as hard (Thomas et.al., 1996). When an individual feels anxious, he/she is more likely to flee from a threatening circumstance where a history of failure exists (Revelle, 1995). Emotional stability was also correlated with low stress levels. Research indicated that in stressful situations, highly neurotic individuals' performance drop (Costa & McCrae, 1992).Thus we predict that:
H5: Coercive power is positively related to Neuroticism
H6: Expert power is negatively related to neuroticism
Employees working in "medium" size enterprises in Lebanon were surveyed to investigate the correlation between the two personality traits (agreeableness and neuroticism) and the bases of power. Medium size enterprises are defined in this study according to the number of employees (100>employees<500) relative to the country size where the majority of businesses are either small or medium. Thus, in order to collect data, a purposive sampling was used. According to Zikmund (1994) the use of a purposive sampling allows the researcher to select a sample to serve the specific purpose of the study. A total of200 questionnaire were handed out with a response rate of 75% (150 employees filled the questionnaire).
The questionnaire had three parts. The first part asked for the demographic variables i.e. gender, age, education, and years of experience. The second part included French and Raven (1959) power bases, and part three the two personality traits (agreeableness and neuroticism). The French and Raven power variables (Reward, Coercive, Expert, Legitimate and Referent Powers) were measured using a 20-item scale developed by French and Raven (1959). The two personality traits (agreeableness and neuroticism) were measured with a 12 item scale (6 questions each) from the (NEO-Five Factor Inventory) developed by Costa and McCrae (1992). The questionnaire used a seven point Likert scale that ranged from 1= strongly agree, to 7= strongly disagree, and 4 = neutral.
Every variable had its result averaged into a single variable using SPSS 15.0 statistical package. A reliability test was conducted and the result showed an overall reliability with Cronbach's Alpha equal to 0.79. The overall reliability for each of the different bases of power and the personality traits were as follows: reward power = 0.82, coercive power = 0.89, legitimate power = 0.71, expert power = 0.87, referent power = 0.88, neuroticism = 0.88, and agreeableness = 0.70.
The objective of this study was to empirically test if a relationship exists between the personality traits (neuroticism and agreeableness) and French and Raven basis of power. Descriptive statistics including subscale, number of questions, mean, median, standard deviation and reliability estimates are presented below (see Table 1).
In order to test the above mentioned six hypotheses for a better organizational performance, a Pearson Product Moment Correlation and Regression analysis were computed with the bases of powers as the dependent variables and the two stable personality traits as the independent variables. (See results in Table II)
The above table shows support for all the six hypotheses drawn from the literature review. H1 is supported, there is a positive relationship between reward power and agreeableness; H2, a positive relationship between legitimate power and agreeableness; H3, a positive relationship between referent power and agreeableness; H4, a positive relation between expert power and agreeableness; H5, a positive relation between coercive power and neuroticism; and H6, a negative relationship between expert power and neuroticism.
This research demonstrates that agreeableness is strongly and positively correlated with referent, legitimate, expert, and reward powers. The findings also demonstrate that neuroticism is positively and highly correlated with coercive power and negatively correlated with expert power with no significant relationship with reward, legitimate, and referent powers within medium size Lebanese organizations.
The demographic variables did not show any significant relationship to neither power, nor personality traits.
A growing body of literature shows that a relationship exists among personality variables and behavior at work (Roberts and Hogan, 2001). The objective of the study was to test the relationship between the personality traits agreeableness and neuroticism, and power. Although studies using the Big Five have become so significant that Ozer and Reise (1994, p.361) declared "Personality psychologists who continue to employ their preferred measure without locating it within the five-factor model can only be likened to geographers who issue reports of new lands but refuse to locate them on a map for others to find," nevertheless, to the researcher's knowledge, this is the first study that empirically investigated the relationship between personality traits and French and Raven bases of power.
Our results indicate that a relationship exists between an individual's stable traits (neuroticism and agreeableness) and power. The results supported our hypothesis that referent and expert powers are positively related to agreeableness. According to Robbins and Judge (2008), a manager's reference power is improved by individuality that develops his/her appreciation and generates personal desirability in relations with other individuals. These involve agreeable behavior, satisfying personality characteristics, and attractive personal appearance.
Shermerhorn, et al. (2004) and Ambur (2000) agree that referent and expert powers are personal powers which arise from the personal characteristics of the individual and are independent of that individual's position and other characteristics.
Past research indicated that both referent and expert power correlate positively with employees' organizational commitment, satisfaction with supervision, and their performance (Robbins and Judge, 2008). It is then logical to assume that the higher the agreeableness trait, the higher the expert and the referent powers, and the higher the individual's organizational commitment, satisfaction with supervision, and performance.
The results also show that the formal bases of power, i.e. reward and legitimate powers which stem from the individual's position in the organization were positively related to agreeableness. That is, individuals high in agreeableness tend to rely more on reward and legitimate powers.
Neuroticism was negatively related to referent power and positively related to coercive power. This makes sense because neurotic individuals tend to be emotionally unstable, anxious, and have low self- esteem. Employees in general will probably not look at such a person as having desirable characteristics to identify with, admire, and try to please. The neurotic individual might then resort to coercive methods to exercise his/her authority since coercive power stems from the person's formal position in the organization (Robbins and Judge, 2008).
This study extends the organizational behavior literature to "medium" size organizations (see definition above) and provides empirical evidence of the relationship between the two personality traits neuroticism and agreeableness with power. The regression analysis showed how the two personality traits agreeableness and neuroticism had significant impact on the different bases of power. However, since by definition, personality traits are believed to be constant overtime (Bozionelos, 2004), and the individual's personality profile will change little after 30 years of age (McCrae & Costa, 1994), then, the researchers are positive that causality is directed in one direction i.e. from neuroticism towards power, and agreeableness towards power, and not the other way around.
It is recommended that "medium" size organizations take into consideration the personality traits of individuals and how they related to power in their selection process. However, the results from this study can not be generalized since the sample size is relatively small (175 individuals) and carried out in Lebanon within "medium" size organizations. The researchers suggest that similar studies be carried out in different size organizations, regions, and cultures, where power and personality are deemed highly indispensable for the survival of organizations and the maintenance of competitive advantage. Further research could also explore the other Big Five traits i.e. conscientiousness, extroversion, and openness to experience, and their relation to power in order to build an inclusive and full model representing all the personality traits with the different bases of power.
This study adds to research on management and managerial functions such that it will assist human resource managers in identifying the ideal candidate for a managerial or leadership job requiring power and personality type behaviors. It will also help them understand the individuals' potentials by identifying those who may exercise power regardless of their position, and those who might be unable to exercise power even though they have the appropriate position.
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Silva Karkoulian, Lebanese American University
Leila Messarra, Lebanese American University
Mohamad Sidani, Lebanese American University
Table 1 Subscale No. of Mean Median Std. questions Deviation Reward 4 5.68 5.75 1.11 Coercive 4 5.01 5.2 1.47 Legitimate 4 5.51 5.75 0.92 Expert 4 5.36 5.50 1.13 Referent 4 5.33 5.25 1.26 Neuroticism 6 3.50 3.50 0.77 Agreeableness 6 4.50 4.50 0.73 Standardized Subscale item alpha Reward 0.82 Coercive 0.89 Legitimate 0.71 Expert 0.87 Referent 0.88 Neuroticism 0.88 Agreeableness 0.70 Table II: Regression Analysis Result Reward Power Coercive Power F-Value=6.544 Neuroticism No Significance [R.sup.2]=0.082 B=0.444 (0.005) F-Value= 7.511 Agreeableness [R.sup.2]=0.093 No Significance B=0.403 (0.001) Legitimate Power Expert Power F-Value=5.998 Neuroticism No Significance [R.sup.2]=0.095 B=-0.260 (0.032) F-value= 7.731 F-Value=5.998 Agreeableness [R.sup.2]=0.095 [R.sup.2]=0.095 B=0.393 (0.000) B=0.406 (0.002) Referent Power Neuroticism No Significance F-Value=3.986 Agreeableness [R.sup.2]=0.051 B=0.390 (0.007)…