Nature of Power

In chapter 12, we examine the nature of the influence process in general. It describes a wide range of tactics used by individuals and groups in work settings to change others’ behavior. Building on this, we turn to the nature of power. In this connection, we consider power as it is acquired and used by individuals and power as it is used by groups or units in an organization. Of importance, the key issues will be how power is gained and used, and—especially with respect to individual power—how it sometimes is shared with others. It is also important to consider the various ways in which people abuse power in organizations, including the problem of sexual harassment, including the extent of the problem and how to address it. Finally, in closing, the chapter will cover a fascinating form of behavior known as organizational politics, examining the tactics individuals use to attain their personal (and selfish) goals, as well as the ethical issues raised by these actions.

While many people assume conflict lowers group and organizational performance, this assumption is frequently incorrect. Conflict can be either constructive or destructive to the functioning of a group or unit. Levels of conflict can be either too high or too low to be constructive. Either extreme hinders performance. An optimal level is one that prevents stagnation, stimulates creativity, allows tensions to be released, and initiates the seeds of change without being disruptive or preventing coordination of activities.

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