Sources and dimensions of power

Power is possessed by individuals, but is integral to the relationships and structures that have been setup within organisations (French and Raven, 1958) (Pfeffer, 1992).

While individual power stems from personal skills and attributes such as knowledge, motivation, ability to deal with difficult situations, and people and language skills; structures also strengthen the power of an individual in terms of their position or rank, relationships with others, their level of popularity or support, and the access they have to key resources.

Interestingly, the degree of power an individual holds is relative to the perceptions of others. While an individual may think they have little power, if others believe the individual has a lot of power, the individual is invested with more power than they think they have.

From an organisational perspective, it is possible to design power into the structure of the organisation so that individuals working in core departments have more power because of where they work. This embedded power can be very effective because people tend to accept such power structures without questioning them.

Power can be bother overt (visible, clearly apparent) or covert (hidden, difficult to observe).

(Source: The Open University, 2012).

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