Organizational Power Politics: Tactics in Organizational Leadership

By Gilbert W. Fairholm | Go to book overview

7
Power Tactics Used with Peers

Much of our thinking about organizational interaction concerns hierarchical relationships. However, organizational interaction also occurs between peers; that is, between people in coordinate, or lateral, relationships. These contacts constitute another power-use strategic orientation. This strategy for engaging in organizational politics makes up a unique arena within which people exercise organizational power. When a manager tries to induce another manager at the same relative hierarchical level to do something, we have an example of peer power use. Similarly, when members of a group (either formal or informal) try to socialize a new member with habitual patterns of behavior, accepted mores, or group values, we have another example of peer power at work.

A peer relationship is one between persons who do not have a clear, unambiguous hierarchical relationship defining their association. That is, a peer does not report directly to another peer. Peers need not be equal in power or capacity or resources. All a peer relationship requires is a nonhierarchical formal or informal relationship ( Szilagyl and Wallace, 1983).

As a result of this kind of relationship, power behavior in this strategy is not characterized by force or authority forms of power. Neither do peer power relationships typically use persuasion forms. They rely instead on more indirect and subtle forms. All the power tactics used by peers are potentially useful to those engaged in peer relationships. The fact is that power use among peers relies most often on interventions that show manipulation, threat, or influence forms of power. The peer strategy tactics described here fall generally into these categories of power.

Peers are interdependent and, given this fact, need to relate to other peers in

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