Organizational Power Politics: Tactics in Organizational Leadership

By Gilbert W. Fairholm | Go to book overview

5
Using Power in the Organization

Power permeates our lives. We are often in situations with others where we are controlling some people or being controlled by them. We cannot choose whether power will be used in our internal organizational political relationships. We can only determine whether we will think about it and act on the basis of an understanding of its use. Facility in its use can help both the practitioner and the analyst in understanding what takes place in organizational life. Power is an essential element of resource allocation, conflict, competition, decision making, planning, staff selection, and the whole range of management, supervisory, and leadership tasks. In a very real sense, power in use is merely organizational dynamics--the action of people in relationships.

Obviously we all use power routinely. It is a central activity of mankind. For Plato, power was "being." In The Sophist, he argues that anything that possesses any sort of power to affect another or to be affected by another, if only for a single moment, however trifling the cause or however slight the effect, has real existence. Writers such as Hobbes, Machiavelli, May, Berle, Russell, and scores of others have viewed the question of power as one of the central issues of society. Power use resolves itself into the question of who is contending for what result and with what resources? These are, at heart, political questions. Our power behavior determines their answers.

Power is omnipresent in organizational decision making. It is critical in selection of key staff. It is a part of all resource allocation. Promotion actions, reorganization decisions, and the development, flow, and use of information

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