A study of tobacco manufacturing plants in France found that the maintenance engineers had an inordinate amount of power, given their formal hierarchical status. Crozier concluded that, in this plant, the breakdown of the machinery was the only remaining uncertainty confronting the organization. The maintenance engineers were the only personnel who could cope with machine stoppage and they had control over the last source of uncertainty remaining in completed routinized organizational system.
Crozier's discoveries later were the basis for a formal theory about power from task interdependence.
Tasks interdependence occurs when two or more employees must depend on each other to complete assigned tasks. An example would be, an executive who has legitimate power over a subordinate, but because the executive must depend on the subordinate the get the job done correctly and on time, the subordinates also has power over the executive.
Power accrues to those organizational functions that possess the most potential for disrupting the productivity of others in the organization. Functions can differ in their ability to disrupt the work of other employees along five dimensions:
- Centrality is the ability of a person to disrupt progress on task.
- Individuals (or groups) in an C F organization are critical if there are no available substitutes for the function or role they perform.
- Relevance has to do with the importance of the disrupted tasks to the mission of the E F organization. By way of contrast, a person's role or function in organization may be central, but only to minor goals of the organization.
- Visibility is a matter of whether actual centrality, criticality, and relevance are perceived as such by other organizations members. This E F suggests that individuals must cultivate other's appreciation of their power.
- A job has flexibility if the jobholder has opportunities to make choices, innovate, and take the initiative. A role has flexibility if it provide opportunities to exercise power (by making choice) that accrues from centrality, criticality, and relevance.
These five characteristics of roles and functions determine whether and individual's position in the flow of work in the organization will be powerful or not.