Information and expertise. Power !ows to those with the information and know-how to solve important problems. It!ows tomarketing experts in consumer products industries, to the faculty in elite universities, and to political consultants who help politicians get elected.
• Reputation. Reputation builds on expertise. In almost any “eld, people develop records of accomplishment based on their prior performance. Opportunities and in!uence !ow to people with strong reputations, like the Hollywood superstars whose presence in a “lm sells tickets. Boivie, Graf”n, and Gentry (2016) found that the reputation of the analyst, the CEO, and the “rm all in!uenced how a “rm’s stock price changed in response to a buy or sell recommendation from a Wall Street analyst.
• Alliances and networks. Getting things done in an organization involves working through a complex network of individuals and groups. Friends and allies make things a lot easier. Kotter (1982) found that a key difference between more and less successful
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senior managers was attentiveness to building and cultivating ties with friends and allies.� Managers who spent too little time building networks had much more dif”culty getting� things done.�
• Access and control of agendas. Organizations and political systems typically give some� individuals and groups more access than others to decision arenas. When decisions are� made, the interests of those with “a seat at the table” are well represented, while the� concerns of absentees are often distorted or ignored (Lukes, 1974; Brown, 1986). Access� often comes at a price. Shani and Westphal (2016) found that journalists who wrote� negative stories about a “rm’s leadership soon found that CEOs from other “rms� stopped taking their calls. Because the journalists needed access to do their jobs, they� tilted toward more !attering articles about corporate leaders.�
• Framing. Control of meaning and symbols is what Mann (1986, 2013) refers to as� ideological power. “Establishing the framework within which issues will be viewed and� decided is often tantamount to determining the result” (Pfeffer, 1992, p. 203). Elites and� opinion leaders often have substantial ability to shape meaning and articulate myths that� express identity, beliefs, and values. Viewed positively, this fosters meaning and hope.� Viewed cynically, elites can convince others to accept and support things not in their best� interests (Brown, 1986; Lakoff, 2004). Lakoff argued that Republican electoral success in� 2000 and 2004 owed much to skill in framing issues—recasting, for example, the “estate� tax” (which sounds like a tax on the rich) into the “death tax” (which sounds like adding� insult to injury).�
• Personal power. Individuals who are attractive and socially adept—because of charisma,� energy, stamina, political smarts, gift of gab, vision, or other characteristics—are imbued� with power independent of other sources. French and Raven (1959) used the term� referent power to describe in!uence that comes when people like you or want to be like� you. John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan expanded their in!uence because they brought� levels of charm, humor, and ease that Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush lacked.�
A signi”cant form of personal power is skill in the application of in!uence tactics. After reviewing research on persuasion, Cialdini (2008, 2016) developed a list of six techniques that skilled practitioners use to in!uence others, often without the targets realizing how they have been hooked:
1.� Reciprocation: If I do something for you (send you a card, give you a small gift, or make� some effort on your behalf), you’re likely to feel you should do something for me as well.�
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2.� Commitment and consistency: If I can get you to take a small step in my direction (maybe getting you to agree that you see at least some positive features in the product or idea I’m selling), I can leverage your desire to be consistent and to live up to your commitments.
3.� Social proof: If I offer evidence that everyone (at least everyone you like) is doing it, you’re more likely to do it as well. (Bars and cafes often salt the tip jar with cash to cue you that tipping is what people do. Sport and “lm stars might have no more product knowledge than you do, but you may still want the shoes they wear or the cosmetic they use.)
4.� Liking: The more you like me (perhaps because I tell you how much I like you, or how well you’ll do on this task, or how much we have in common), the better the chance you’ll do what I ask.
5.� Authority: If the boss, or someone with a badge or a fancy title, asks you to do it, you probably will.
6.� Scarcity: We put a higher value on something that is scarce or about to become unavailable. (If I can convince you that the price is going up, there are only a few items left, what you want is very rare, or this is your last chance, you’re more likely to buy.)
Partisans’ multiple sources of power are always a constraint on authorities’ capacity to make binding decisions. Of”ceholders who rely solely on position power generate resistance and get out!anked, outmaneuvered, or overrun by others more versatile in exercising multiple forms of power. Kotter (1985) argues that managerial jobs come with a built-in “power gap” because position power is rarely enough to get the job done. Expertise, rewards, coercion, allies, access, reputation, framing, and personal power help close the gap.
Power can be volatile, rising and falling with changes in circumstances. An organization that sets new pro”t records each year is rarely besieged by complaints and demands for change. As many corporate leaders have learned, however, the “rst bad quarter triggers a stream of calls and letters from board members, stockholders, and “nancial analysts. In the boom of the late 1990s, “everyone” was getting rich in the stock market, and charismatic CEOs such as Jack Welch of General Electric and Jean-Marie Messier of France’s Vivendi became popular heroes. But when the economy, the market, and the image of business crashed in the “rst years of the new century, so did these heroic images. In 2002, Welch found himself deeply embarrassed by public revelation of the generous postretirement payouts his old company was bestowing on him. In the same year, Messier was booted out
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by board members dissatis”ed with the company’s stock price and his arrogant “American” leadership style.
Clark Kerr once remarked ruefully that his primary tasks as chancellor of the University of California atBerkeley seemed to beproviding “sex for the students, parking for the faculty, and football for the alumni.” The remark was half-facetious, but it re!ects an important grain of truth: A president’s power lies particularly in zones of indifference—areas only a few people care much about. The zone of indifference can expand or contract markedly, depending on howanorganization is performing in the eyes of itsmajor constituents. In the late 1960s,many college presidents lost their jobs because they were blamed for student unrest. Among them was Kerr, who remarked that he left the job just as he entered it, “”red with enthusiasm.” Managers need to track shifting boundaries of zones of indifference so as not to blunder into decisions that stir up unanticipated “restorms of criticism and resistance.
Distribution of Power: Overbounded and Underbounded Systems Organizations and societies differ markedly in how power is distributed. Alderfer (1979) and Brown (1983) distinguish between overbounded and underbounded systems. In an overbounded system, power is highly concentrated and everything is tightly regulated. In an underbounded system, power is diffuse and the system is very loosely controlled. An overbounded system regulates politics with a “rm hand; an underbounded system encourages con!ict and power games.
If power is highly regulated, political activity is often forced under wraps. Before the emergence of Mikhail Gorbachev and glasnost (“openness”) in the 1980s, it was common for Westerners to view the Soviets as a vast, amorphous mass of like-minded people, brainwashed by decades of government propaganda. It was not true, but even so-called experts on Soviet affairs misread the underlying reality (Alterman, 1989). Ethnic, political, philosophical, and religious differences simmered quietly underground so long as the Kremlin maintained a tightly regulated society. Glasnost took the lid off, leading to an outpouring of debate and dissent that rapidly caused the collapse of the old order in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe. Almost overnight, much of Eastern Europe went from overbounded to underbounded. Most nations in Eastern Europe have since evolved into stable democracies, but many other countries have been less fortunate.