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Topic 4: Power, Resistance and Decision Making. Developed by Dr. Ruth Barton & Dr. M argaret Heffernan, OAM RMIT University. Aims of the lecture. Questions of Power. How Does Power Work in Organisations?. Power as the ability to control social interaction. Organisations

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topic 4 power resistance and decision making

Topic 4: Power, Resistance and Decision Making

Developed by Dr. Ruth Barton

&

Dr. Margaret Heffernan, OAM RMIT University

how does power work in organisations
How Does Power Work in Organisations?

Power

as the

ability

to control

social interaction

  • Organisations
  • are hierarchical
what is power
What is Power?
  • Normative (most rational way of organising power) Realpolitik (how does power actually operate)

(Source: Thompson and McHugh 2009:256)

power in mainstream theory
Power in Mainstream Theory

Bases of power

  • Reward
  • Coercive
  • Referent
  • Legitimate
  • Expert

(French & Raven 1959)

Trend spotting as Power

  • information powerin the advertising industry
  • Controlover information flow
    • legitimate power
    • More power to those who can help firms cope with uncertainty in contemporary business
power mainstream theory
Power : Mainstream Theory
  • The Four ‘Faces’ of Power
  • Coercion
  • Manipulation
  • Domination
  • Subjectification

(Fleming and Spicer 2007)

  • Economic
  • Coercive
  • Ideological
  • (Runciman 1999)
1 st face of power coercion
1st Face of Power: Coercion
  • Direct coercion
  • getting another person to do something that might not have been done.
  • Coercion one individual getting another to follow his/her orders
2 nd face of power manipulation
2nd Face of Power - Manipulation

3 processes

  • Anticipation of results
  • Mobilisation of bias
  • Rule and norm making
  • Ofagendas: ‘behind the scenes’ politicking
  • Exclusion from decision making authority
  • Power as manipulation: There is no direct exercise of power but an implicit shaping of issues considered important or irrelevant.
3 rd face of power domination
3rd Face of Power - Domination
  • Over the preferences and opinions of participants
  • Power that shapes our preferences, attitudes and political outlook
  • Used in the design and implementation of paradigmatic frameworks
    • Forms of life e.g. profit
    • Ideology
    • Technical rationality
4 th face of power subjectification
4th Face of Power - Subjectification
  • People are moulded with certain understandings of themselves and the world around them
  • The organisation moulds people into a certain type
  • Use knowledge to produce compliance
  • Culture of the customer
slide12

“A wide range of behaviour – from failure to work very hard or conscientiously, to not working at all, deliberate output restriction, practical joking, pilferage and sabotage.”

  • (Ackroyd and Thompson, 1999 cited in Fleming and Spicer, 2007)
  • “Resistance constitutes a form of
  • power exercised by subordinates
  • in the workplace.”
  • (Collinson, 1994 cited in Fleming and Spicer, 2007)

Resistance

resistance as refusal
Resistance as Refusal
  • 1st face of power is coercion
  • Resistance is refusal to do what the person in the position of power tells him / her to do
  • Aim is to block the effects of power by undermining the domination rather than changing it
resistance as voice
Resistance as Voice
  • 2nd face of power operates through non-participation
  • Resistance is to gain access to power in order to express voice
    • Internal: interest groups, trade unions
    • External: social movements
    • Sabotage
resistance as escape
Resistance as Escape
  • 3rd face of power is domination
  • Escape is to mentally disengage from the world of work
  • Tools are
    • Cynicism
    • scepticism
    • dis-identification
resistance as creation
Resistance as Creation
  • 4thface of power is subjectification
  • Involves using domination to create something that was not intended by those in authority
  • May make use of parody e.g. Union newsletter
slide17

“A decision is often defined as a product of decision making processes.

  • Recent researchers argue that managers often seek to avoid making decisions or obscure them, often to avoid accountability for courses of action that are subsequently
  • seen as misguided.”

Decision making

Linstead & Fulop 2009: 669

slide18
Traditional decision-making theories and ‘choice’Decision making: a response to a situation requiring a choice.

Linstead & Fulop 2009: 671

types of choice
Types of ‘choice’

Linstead & Fulop 2009: 672

types of decision processes
Types of decision processes

Linstead & Fulop 2009: 671

models of decision making
Models of decision Making

Examines the role of powerful decision making groups (‘dominant coalitions’) and why many decisions are really ‘non-decisions’

Source: Thompson and McHugh 2009,Table 18.1: 273-4

the rational decision model
The rational decision model

Assumptions

  • Problem clarity
  • Known options
  • Clear preferences
  • Constant preferences
  • Maximum pay-off
  • No time or cost constraints
  • Outcome will be rational

Implementation of decision

(Bratton et al. 2010: 411;Linstead & Fulop 2009:674; Nelson et al. 2012:150 )

b ureaucratic administrative model
Bureaucratic / administrative model

Assumptions

Managers:

  • Select the first satisfactory alternative Are comfortable making decisions without determining the alternatives
  • Make decisions by short cuts or heuristics (managers make decisions on what has worked in the past)
  • Satisfice – because of cost of ‘best choice’

Decision made on ‘best in

the circumstances’

(Bratton et al. 2010: 411;Linstead & Fulop 2009:676; Nelson et al. 2012:151 )

g arbage can decision model
Garbage-candecision model

Difficulty

  • Failure to account for the political activity of participants who encourage conditions of organised anarchy, or who exploit them for particular advantage.

Implementation of decision

(Linstead & Fulop 2009:683)

political decision model
Politicaldecision model

Difficulty

  • The pluralist approach does not explain how decisions can be made or avoided in organisations because of the influence or pressure of external groups who may form part of a dominant coalition.

Implementation of decision

(Linstead & Fulop 2009:685)

escalation of commitment
Escalation of Commitment

Source: Nelson et al. 2012:151

slide29

Techniques of decision making

(Linstead & Fulop 2009:Table 14.1: 677)

influences of decision making
Influences of Decision Making

Individuals differ in risk behaviour

Enablers

and

barriers to creativity

4 stages:

Preparation

Incubation

Illumination

Verification

Ability to make judgment about a situation based on a ‘hunch’.

(Source: nelson et al. 2012: 153)

negative factors arising from group cohesiveness
Negative factors arising from group cohesiveness

Source: Thompson and McHugh 2009:375

symptoms of groupthink
Symptoms of Groupthink
  • Leads to discounting warnings and negative information.
  • An illusion of unanimity emerges
  • Self-censorships of any deviation from group norms.

Leads members to be

convinced of the

logical correctness of what

they are dong and ignore

the ethical or moral

consequences of

decisions.

Belief in the

inherent morality

of the group

Wood et al. 2010 : 103

avoiding groupthink
Avoiding Groupthink
  • Leaders need to be reflexiveto assess their behaviour and stay impartial

Source: Thompson and McHugh 2009:375

group polarisation
Group Polarisation

Source: Nelson et al. 2012:160

minimising bias and errors in decision making
Minimising Bias and Errors in Decision Making

Structured team decision-making process of pooling the collective knowledge of subject experts

Bratton et al. 2010 :425

references
References
  • Bratton, J, Sawchuck, P, Forshaw, C, Callinan, M, & Corbett, M 2010, Work and Organization Behaviour, 2nd edn, Palgrave MacMillan, UK. Chapter 15: Decision Making and Ethics, pp.407-432
  • Clegg, S, Courpasson, D and Phillips, N (2007) Power and Organisations, London: SAGE.
  • Edwards, P and Wajcman, J (2005) The Politics of Working Life, OUP: Oxford.
  • Fleming, P and Spicer, A (2007) Contesting the Corporation: Struggle, Power and Resistance in Organisations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Haslam, SA, 2004, Psychology in organisations: the social identity approach, 2nd edn, Sage London. Chapter 6: Group decision making, pp.99-119
  • Knights, D (2009) ‘Power at Work in Organisations’, in Alvesson, M, Bridgman, T and Willmott, H (eds) The Oxford handbook of Critical Management Studies, Oxford: OUP.
  • Linstead S, Fulop, L, Lilley, S 2009, Management and Organization: A critical text, 2nd edn, Palgrave MacMillan, London. Chapter 14: Decision making in organisations, pp. 667-708
  • Nelson, DL, Quick, JC, Wright, S,& Adams, C 2012, OrgB Asia-Pacific Edition, Cengage, Sydney. Chapter 10: Decision making by individuals and groups, pp. 148-164
  • Thompson, P, & McHugh, D, 2009 Work Organisations: A critical approach, Palgrave Macmillan, London. Chapter 24: From groups to teams, pp. 369-387