French and Raven’s Classification of sources of power includes reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, referent power and expert power. But sources of power are different from power bases.
of Organisational Power
French and Raven’s Classification
of sources of power includes reward power, coercive power, legitimate power,
referent power and expert power. But sources of power are different from power
bases. This distinction is not maintained by French and Raven. How power
holders control power bases speaks about sources of power. In other words,
sources of power tell us wherefrom the power holders get their power bases.
There are four sources of power, namely, position power
(legitimate power), referent power
(personal powers), expert power and opportunity power.
The source of position power is
almost identical to authority. One’s structural position in the formal group or
organisation enables access to power bases i.e., what the power holder has that
gives him power. According to French and Raven this power stems from the
internalized values of the other persons which give legitimate right to the
power holder to influence them. In other words, others feel that they have
obligation to accept this power. Again there are three major source of
-- One is prevailing cultural values of organisation or group which determine legitimacy. In orgnisational
context, managers have legitimate power because employees believe in private
property laws and in the hierarchy where persons holding higher positions wield
power over lower position holders.
-- Second source of legitimacy is social structure. In an organisation, for example, when blue collar workers
accept employment, they are in effect accepting its hierarchical structure and
thereby granting legitimate power to their superiors.
-- Being designated as the representative of a
powerful person or a group is a third source of legitimate power. A member of
the board of directors or management committee is examples of this source.
These sources of legitimate power create an obligation to accept and be
Personal Power or Referent Power
One’s personal characteristics
can be a source of power. Articulation, domineering and charisma are personal
characteristics that yield personal power. Others want to identify with a
powerful person, regardless of consequences. In the organisational setting, a
manger who depends on referent power must be personally attractive to his
Expertise is the means by which
the power holder controls specialized information. Others attribute knowledge
and expertise to the power seeker. In a technology-oriented or knowledge
society, expert power is one of the most powerful sources of influence.
Credibility comes from having the right credentials, that is, the person must
really know what he is talking about and be able to show tangible evidence of
knowledge. Besides credibility, the person holding expert power must be
trustworthy, that is, he must have reputation for being honest and
Being in the right place at the
right time can give a person the opportunity to gain power. One need not hold a
formal position in an organisation to have access to information which others
Other Sources of Power
Besides these four sources of
power, there is yet another source arising out of task-interdependence. Though
a superior has legitimate power over subordinate, he must depend on the
subordinate to get the job done correctly and on time. Hence the latter has
power over the former due to task interdependency.
Tags : Management Concepts & Organisational Behaviour - Organisational Power & Politics
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