Strategic Management: Formulation and Implementation

Sources Of Power

The most widely used and recognized analysis of the bases of power is the framework developed by John French and Bertram Raven. French and Raven suggest five different types of power: reward power, coercion power, legitimate power, referent power, expert power.

By the basis of power we mean the relationship between O (Other person) and P (the individual) which is the source of that power. The relation between O and P will be characterized by several qualitatively different variables which are bases of power. These five bases of Os power are:

  1. reward power, based on Ps perception that O has the ability to mediate reward for him;
  2. coercive power, based on Ps perception that O has the ability to mediate punishments for him;
  3. legitimate power, based on the perception by P that O has a legitimate right to prescribe behavior for him;
  4. referent power, based on Ps identification with O;
  5. expert power, based on the perception that O has some special knowledge or expertness
Reward power
Managers can influence subordinates through their ability to provide them with rewards. For example, to the extent that subordinates value rewards that the manager can give praise, promotions, desirable work assignments, time off, more responsibility they may comply with requests and orders.
Coercive power
The opposite of reward power is coercive power. In this instance, managers derive power based on their control over punishment that can be imposed on subordinates. Punishment may take the form of assignment of undesirable tasks, closer supervision, loss of pay. Taken to the extreme, managers threaten employees with lay offs, demotion, or dismissals.
Legitimate power
Legitimate power refers to the power and authority a managers possesses as a result of occupying a particular position or role in the organization. For example, once a person has been selected as a supervisor, most workers understand that they are obligated to follow his direction with respect to work activities. Legitimate power is based on norms, values, and beliefs which teach that particular persons have the legitimate power to govern others.
Referent power
Referent power comes from manager responsibility characteristics that command subordinates' identification, respect, and admiration so they wish to emulate managers. For example, a young manager may copy the leadership style of an older, admired, and more experienced manager. Famous religious leaders and political figures often develop and use referent power (e.g., Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King).
Expert Power
Expert power arises from an individuals's special knowledge, skill, or expertise. Subordinates are more likely to respond positively to a manager's attempts to influence their behaviour if the view the manager as competent and in possession of knowledge and information regarding effective task performance that they themselves lack. A lack of expert power often plagues new managers and employees.