Organizational Power Politics: Tactics in Organizational Leadership

By Gilbert W. Fairholm | Go to book overview

12
The History and Theory of Power

Power is a part of all life. Viewing our relationships with others from the perspective of power can assist us to understand our success or lack of success in attaining our aims ( Pfeffer, 1992). A power perspective can add insight about human interrelationships that no other perspective can. We can, of course, gain insight about our group behavior when we view our actions from the standpoint of communications. Other insight is possible as we analyze our relationships on the basis of conflict, or change, or motivation, or a number of other technologies. These perspectives are well known and well documented. Techniques and models abound to help the individual understand group behavior in these terms.

An organizational (political) power perspective in leadership is new. Little has been written that develops a holistic model of human relationships in work organizations based on power usage. A careful review of the literature reveals significant insights about power in use. It is only recently that writers have begun to abstract working models and strategies applicable to leadership ( Pfeffer, 1981; and Allen and Porter, 1983). The ideas contained in the following discussion relate sometimes disparate power ideas into a synthesis hopefully useful to practitioner and academic alike.


BACKGROUND

Society is a condition of inequality. Whether in the animal or human realm, there are the ordinary and the extraordinary, the leaders and the led, the powerful

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