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Power, Politics and Conflict Chapter 14. Introduction. This lecture will: Introduce the topic of power in organizations Explain key debates on power in the OB field Convey an understanding of systems of power, authority, influence and hegemony

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Power, Politics and Conflict Chapter 14


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power politics and conflict chapter 14
Power, Politics

and Conflict

Chapter 14

introduction
Introduction

This lecture will:

Introduce the topic of power in organizations

Explain key debates on power in the OB field

Convey an understanding of systems of power, authority, influence and hegemony

Outline a range of theories on power, including those of Mann, Gramsci and Foucault

what is power 1
What is Power? (1)

There a many definitions of power

Firstly we have ‘common sense’ views of power – that it is a kind of energy, like electricity

This view of power is very persistent in the literature

However, Dahl defines power in interpersonal terms

'A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would otherwise not do..‘ (Dahl, 1957)

Power is clearly related to authority and influence (French and Raven)

Power can also be viewed as diffuse (not a simple unitary entity which a state or organization possesses) (Mann, 1986)

theories of power 1 giddens habermas
Theories of Power (1): Giddens & Habermas

Giddens’s structuration theory shows the complex inter-relationship of human freedom (agency) and structure

For Giddens, power is a feature of human choices mixed with ‘authority’, and the distribution of resources which take control of time and space

Contrastingly, Habermas describes ideology as a communications structure and describes power as ‘penetrating the life-world of daily activities’

theories of power 2 weber and lukes
Theories of Power (2):Weber and Lukes

A contrasting theory is that of Weber, who outlines three types of authority: charismatic, traditional and rational

This theory is reflected in the work of Wrong (see next slide)

Lukes relates power to the ‘bringing about of consequences’

An acceptance of the legitimacy of power entails the creation of authority

In cases of conflict of interest in power relations, Lukes argues that power rather than influence is the operative force

theories of power 3 foucault
Theories of Power (3):Foucault

Foucault wrote widely on the micro-politics of power:

He dwells on the agency/structure contrast

He looks at the relationship of the individual and society and the tensions revealed

His writing was concerned with the repressive and subtle nature of the creation of power relations in society (Foucault, 1980)

theories of power 4 gramsci and the theory of hegemony
Theories of Power (4): Gramsci and the Theory of Hegemony

Hegemony is a subtle expression of socio-political predominance of a group or groups

It is associated with the domination and leadership of a group over other groups in society

It is linked to the theories of Gramsci

Gramsci developed the theory of a system of alliances within a hegemonic bloc of interests

Some research (Williams) has emphasised counter-hegemonic practices in emergent forms of practice

Gramsci and Williams are macro-level theorists

theories of power 5
Theories of Power (5)

A underpinning theoretical influence on these theorists is Nietzsche

He evolved a idea of the will to power

Micro-theoreticalapproaches include:

Goffman (1959) – examines the presentation of the self in everyday life

Krippendorf (1995) – examines gender relations relative to discourse and verbal exchanges between genders

Game theory – a subset of rational choice theory

power in the workplace 1
Power in the Workplace (1)

Collinson (influenced by Foucault) argues that despite an apparent decline in workplace disputes, power struggle in the workplace continues

It is expressed in both domination and resistance and can still be present in cases of consent

This approach is known as labour process theory

It points towards asymmetries in contemporary organizations, reflecting employee resistance and managerial control

Workers can gain access to technical/production knowledge despite being denied other sources of knowledge

It advocates resistance by distance – limiting information given to management – and resistance by persistence

power in the workplace 2
Power in the Workplace (2)

Recent research on power explores:

How power is experienced in the workplace

The issue of 'exit and voice'

This relates to the relationship between political action (voice)/exit behaviours, and job stress (Mayes & Ganster, 1988)

The issue of 'fit' of employee in the thought of Gramsci and Foucault

Worker resistance (Goltz and Hietapelto, 2002)

conclusion 1
Conclusion (1)

Analysis of power shows its deep well springs and roots; these are expressed by ideology

Gramsci and Foucault are examples of this

These authors argue that power has two facets:

consent, accommodation and domination (control features often achieved by ideology);

resistance (often by workers – including lack of commitment, stress, political action and ‘voice’)

Hegemonic blocs of power achieve dominance by our complicity - Gramsci and Foucault reflect this

conclusion 2
Conclusion (2)

Collinson represents a variant of these types of theories by expressing a link between Labour process theory and new sociological approaches to power

It must be recalled however, that the issue of resistance only occurs in the context of cases in which legitimacy ought be challenged

Not all power or systems instituting power are necessarily bad

That said, subjects seem entitled to resist when power exceeds its lawful bounds or it is not duly lawfully constituted

This may be a question of historical interpretation or choice of belief in a state