Theory of Organizational Power

Max Weber (1947) in his classical organization theory exemplified power in an organization through the process of control. Weber related authority to legitimacy, implying that managers enjoy it by virtue of their position in the organizational hierarchy. Although legitimate authority itself is a power, an individual member of an organization without authority can also enjoy power.

In organizations, there are various sources of power. And, the primary source of power is the legitimate power, which means the power assigned based on job designation. It is allocated according to the rank level within the organization (Kotter, 2008). Officers in the higher level such as management are perceived to have power over junior employees. Besides, other sources of power are relevant in an organization. Experts in a certain field have enough knowledge on that area giving them power over employees lacking such knowledge.

According to the Theory of Organizational Power, sources of authority need not always depend on legitimacy. Charismatic authority may be independent of legitimacy, as it is embedded in the outstanding characteristics of an individual. Traditional authority is essentially a respect for custom (like a senior member of an organization is respected by others).

Rational-legal authority is based on the code or set of rules of an organization. According to the Theory of Organizational Power, rational-legal authority can be efficiently used by an organization through bureaucracy. Bureaucracy restricts managers from using rational-legal authority arbitrarily. Bureaucracy binds organizations by a certain set of rules.

Power is responsible for ensuring employee commitment and compliance in the organization. It aids in avoiding resistance among employees ensuring they coexist in harmony, which leads to increased productivity. Even though managers are perceived to have power, they also need to work on leadership, which is an essential element in organizational power. They need to empower fellow employees by making useful decisions that help them and their work.

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