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Let 1 Task 3

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LET1 Task 3

Influence someone has over another is known as power. Power can be good or bad depending on how it is used. If power is used wisely it can help an organization. Used poorly, however, power can be detrimental to those involved. There are five bases of power and all are seen in the given scenario. These five bases can be divided into two main forms of power. The first form of power “is based on an individual’s position in an organization” (Robbins & Judge, 2007, p. 471), this is also known as formal power. This form of power encompasses three of our five bases of power. The first that is included is a fear based power known as coercive power. The second is based on rewards and acknowledgement and is known as reward power. The final base covered in the first group is legitimate power. Legitimate power is created by a specific title or position within an organization.
The second form of power is personal power, and encompasses the remaining two bases of power. The first base of power covered under personal power is expert power. Having skills or knowledge that someone else does not is expert power. The last base of power is referent power. “Referent power develops out of admiration of another and a desire to be like that person,” (Robbins & Judge, 2007, p. 472). All individuals possess a degree of personal power.
As mentioned previously, all five bases of power are represented within the given scenario. Coercive power, the first base of power, is presented by the marketing manager. He constantly reminds his employees about the yearly review to “encourage” them to work harder and later. His constant reminder is not encouragement but more of a threat. He is implying by them not putting in extra hours they will not receive a good evaluation. This is a fear tactic to have the manager get what he wants from his employees. Employees should be able to complete adequate work results without the extra hours to receive a superior rating. This use of power could eventually come back on the manager if his employees lodge complaints with the executives.
While the marketing manager is using the yearly review as a threat, Employee 1 sees it as reward power. Employee 1 knows that if he can get the bonus for a good review he will be able to pay for a vacation he wants. He uses the reward for motivation to work hard in order to get good reviews. Reward and coercive power is completely based on who is dependent on the power. Meaning it is based on the view that the power is directed to. In the case of Employee 1 he views it as reward power, where other employees may view it at coercive power.
The third power displayed in the scenario is legitimate power. The accounting and marketing managers have this power. This power is shown by their given titles within the organization. This gives them the “authority to control and use organizational resources” (Robbins & Judge, 2007, p. 472). Their titles give them the power to answer questions, evaluate performance, and guide the roles of their employees. The employees are the dependents in the legitimate power relationship because they are under the management of their managers.
Expert power in displayed by Employee 2, the CPA. He is the only one in the accounting department that can do the financial statements. His ability to do this and his being the sole person that can puts him a position to bargain with his manager. Employee 2’s skill makes the accounting manager the dependent in this power relationship because Employee 2 holds the power.
The final power displayed in the scenario is by Employee 3. Employee 3 has referent power. This power is exercised by his likeability and charm. His positivity draws people to him and his ideas. He was able to persuade those that were skeptical of his idea to accept it because of this power. Those drawn to him and his ideas are the dependents in this referent power relationship.
Everyone has some power. As seen in the scenario it can be expressed in very different ways. There is no power, however, without dependency. “When you possess anything that others require but that you alone control, you make them dependent on you and, therefore, you gain power over them” (Emerson, 1962). Dependency is an element of power and “dependency is increased when the resource is important, scarce, and non-substitutable” (Mintzberg, 1983, p. 24). It is important to remember that power can be used to benefit or destroy. The company in the scenario needs to evaluate the types of power being used to ensure it is benefitting the company.
All the powers have dependent characteristics. The dependent characteristic of expert power is scarcity and importance. In the scenario the company only has one CPA meaning he is scarce and important because there is only one. Scarcity and importance are the dependency factors of expert power. The CPA is important because he knows how to do the financial reporting. He is scarce because he is the only single person in the company able to do them. If the company were to get another CPA the current one would have less power in the situation. Even if they trained another employee or introduced a new software program to do the reporting it would reduce the CPA’s power by reducing the dependency the company has on him.
The dependent characteristic of legitimate power is the same characteristic of the power itself. The titles possessed in a company determine who has the power and who the dependents are. Having a lower title automatically makes one a dependent of someone with a higher title. In the scenario, the manager has the legitimate power while the CPA being someone managed by the manager is dependent because of him not being on the mangers title level.
Based on the company’s dependence the CPA has the most power because he is the only person in the company that can prepare the monthly financial statements. The company’s need for the CPA’s skills makes him a valuable resource. The CPA is able to negotiate a four-day work week while the employees in the marketing department are “encouraged” to work more than their 40 hour, five day work week because of the dependence that company has on him. If the company and the accounting manager wanted to reduce the dependency they have on the CPA they could have the CPA cross-train another employee or hire another CPA. The CPA may be resistant to give up his expert power but it is up to the company to decide where the dependency of power lies.
Employee 3 must use his referent power to gain a stronger foothold within the company. Because referent power is based on personality it is very dependent on the perception and view of others. If views change then the power may shift to someone else that hold the popular perception. If employee 3 can use his power to lead a team that can successfully implement the sales increasing idea, he can then gain more referent power but also gain expert and legitimate power. If it is a failure he will lose his referent power and will have a harder time gaining expert or legitimate power.
Whether in the scenario or in real life, everyone has a role in the power-dependency relationship. In most cases everyone has power and dependency simultaneously. Understanding the relationship between the type of power and the power’s dependency characteristics is the key to shifting power and finding a balance. In the scenario the company needs to decide what the best balance is for power and where they want the majority of the power to lie.


Emerson, R. (1962). Power-Dependence Relations. American Sociological Review. Feb. 1962. pp. 31- 41

Mintzberg, H. (1983). Power In and Around Organizations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Robbins, S., & Judge, T. (2007). Organizational Behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.…...

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