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Individual Power Bases and Position Power

Individual Power Bases and Position Power

Individual Power Bases and Position Power

The capacity to exert influence, modify behaviour, and alter others’ attitudes is the definition of power. Expert power and referent power are two types of personal power each person possesses. Expertise is the possession of information, experience, and judgment that one has but that others do not. This power is not absolute; thus, there is always someone who is more powerful depending on a person’s performance through time and the value of their information. Referent power is the ability to influence another person’s actions so they can identify with the person they perceive to be the powerful one and feel a sense of belonging.

Identification is seen as referent power because it causes people to alter their behaviour in response to the identity of a powerful person. Others may admire those who have referent power, but preserving the images they have cultivated to preserve referent power is a drawback (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021a).

Position power, divided into legitimate, rewarding, and coercive power, is derived from the rank of a position in an organization. A position or title with authority is a sign of legitimate power, and the occupant has the right to manage their subordinates. This power is crucial and required in a business, but managers who rely on it often struggle with effectiveness, often as a result of a phenomenon known as the zone of indifference. These days, the zone of indifference is much wider, making it more difficult for managers to abuse their power. It is a set of instructions that subordinates will obey without question. A person’s capacity to produce positive outcomes with rewards like money, acclaim, and promotions and to increase outcomes with detrimental rewards like unfavourable working conditions, assignments, and environments is known as reward power.

Although the ability to influence behaviour through rewards can be beneficial, it can also harm employee morale when awards fall short of expectations. Coercive power, also known as negative reward power, is the use of punishment, such as the threat of promotion, transfer, or withholding of finances. When utilized responsibly to avoid harming employee morale, this power has been shown to improve performance and behaviour concerns (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021a).

Political skill is another word for political savvy; these individuals can discern the true, covert motives and linkages in political settings. They can also persuade people to act in ways that affect their own and their organization’s goals, and they can alter their behaviour to appear credible and authentic in particular circumstances (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021b).

Through connection power, which is formed through formal and informal interactions with other individuals that “form relationships and networks (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021),” politically savvy, political skill, and networking are related to organizational power. There are three sorts of connection power; the first is association power, which is the ability to accomplish organizational goals through relationships with influential people. The power of reciprocity, or doing someone a favour in exchange for them doing something for you, comes in second. This influence within a company can forge a network of allies and open doors to needs being met. The third factor is information power, which refers to having useful information due to connections to those with access to that crucial knowledge. If a network is formed due to the links and connections this information fosters, it will depend on how it is used (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021b).

These can result in relationship power, which creates networks and connections to reach out to others and influence them, increasing social capital (Uhl-Bien et al., 2021b).


Uhl-Bien, M., Piccolo, R.F., Schermerhorn, J. R. & Bachrach, D.G. (2021a). MGT-420 organizational behaviour and management with WileyPLUS. Wiley & Sons.

Uhl-Bien, M., Piccolo, R.F., Schermerhorn, J. R. & Bachrach, D.G. (2021b). MGT-420 organizational behaviour and management with WileyPLUS. Wiley & Sons.


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Individual Power Bases and Position Power

Individual Power Bases and Position Power

Which power bases lie within the individual? Which are derived from the organization? Review political skill, political savvy, and networking in the textbook. How is each related to power in organizations?

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