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Who wants to proof read!?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Stompwampa, Oct 15, 2006.

  1. Stompwampa

    Stompwampa IncGamers Member

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    Who wants to proof read!?

    I'm working on a small group project for my Organizational Behavior class. This project requires us to write an 8 page paper, plus create a 20 minute in class presentation. The whole project is worth 50% of the class grade. We have the paper already written. It is about Power and Authority in the workplace. I'm looking for some feedback/proofreading. Any input would be greatly appreciated! :thumbsup:
    (Sorry...it is a long read...8 pages and all...)


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    Careers are a constant part of our lives. We live them, breathe them and sleep them. We deal with customers or clients, invoices, faxes, broken computers, paychecks, coworkers and ultimately, the boss. They’re the one person everyone either hates to love or loves to hate. The dynamic environment of our jobs and careers constantly place us in situations where we must deal with the powers that be. Or is it the authorities that be?
    We often tend to affiliate the words power and authority with one another. In fact, most of us use them interchangeably. However, while these words are related, they are not the same, and are not necessarily dependent on one another. This leads us to ask, what are the differences between power and authority in a workplace setting? What are the similarities? Furthermore, how do they apply to on-the-job leadership? It is important to understand that although power and authority are very similar; they are in fact two very different phenomena that can affect us in different ways and from different people. In order to understand these differences, we must first define “power†and “authority†separately. Power is the perceived ability to make others do what you want (Vecchio, 2006, p. 124). While authority is the power assigned to another in order to enforce laws, exact obedience, or command others (Free, 2006). Next, those definitions can be used to determine how power and authority are applied in the workplace.
    John French and Bertram Raven are highly respected men in the psychology field. Bertram Raven has been a member of the psychology board at UCLA since 1956; he also was director of the Survey Research Center, director of a training program in health psychology, and chair of the Department of Psychology at UCLA. Today Bertram is researching interpersonal influence and social power relationships (Professional, 2006). John R.P. French Jr. died in 1995 at the age of 82. French was an expert in training social psychologists in experimental research. John French was also president of the Society of Psychological Study of Social Issues, the National Institute for Mental Health's Research Career Award, and a Fulbright Fellowship (University, 1995). While researching together in 1959 French and Raven distinguished between five types of power: Reward, Coercive, Legitimate, Referent and Expert (Vecchio, 2006, p. 125).
    Reward power can be most easily summed up as the ability to decide who gets which reward (Vecchio, 2006, p. 125). In addition, according to the Porter Lawler Model of Motivation, a reward must also have a perceived value to the employee or the reward will be useless to them (Vecchio, 2006, p. 84). Reward power is a very important power for an individual to have in an organization, since a person with reward power has the ability to directly affect another’s returns. This is the only power out of the five that French and Raven discovered which is not perceived.
    Coercive Power is the capacity to make others fearful. Someone who exercises this kind of power can make employees afraid of losing their job or being demoted (Vecchio, 2006, p. 126). This power can be held by any person that works in the organization. The power is mainly used by managers and supervisors; however, seniority can also come into play. For instance, one employee who holds the same position as another may have coercive power because they have been with the company longer. They could use their seniority to boss around other employees, or threaten to get them fired by management. Supervisors and managers may hold this power over their subordinates because of their ability to fire and punish them.
    Legitimate power is what makes people listen to and follow instructions from another (Vecchio, 2006, p. 126). A person with legitimate power isn’t necessarily the boss. This person could simply have the kind of qualities that people look up to and follow naturally. A good leader holds legitimate power because of the way they have others follow them, by the words they use, or the way they go about their business. Legitimate power has little to do with knowledge of a certain area, but rather the way a person holds the attention of others. Legitimate power is perceived in that those who hold this form of power do not necessarily get people to listen to them in all cases. Those who do listen perceive that person to have legitimate power. Those who do not listen will simply ignore the situation and go about their own business.
    Referent power is the charisma one shows to have others identify with them. This is how people perceive someone to be by their appearance, style and poise (Vecchio, 2006, p. 127). Referent power differs from legitimate power in that referent power is impersonal and distant. It is based on limited and possibly skewed knowledge of an individual. Michael Jordan held referent power because of his demeanor and the way he carried himself. Because of his great talent, leadership and familiarity among others, Michael Jordan had power: others wanted to be him. In further example, if a person’s sole possession is a Ferrari they will be perceived by others as having a lot of wealth (i.e. referent power). If in reality that person is not wealthy, and that information becomes known, their perceived referent power will be lost and they will then be perceived as inferior.
    Expert power is a perceived knowledge of someone’s talent or expertise in a given field (Vecchio, 2006, p. 127). For example, college professors have expert power because their students perceive them to be knowledgeable in their particular field of study. Socially speaking, if two inexperienced anglers went fishing and one acted as though they knew everything there was to know about fishing and caught ten fish, even though that person possessed no knowledge of fishing, they would be perceived by the other to have expert power. Even if the angler caught no fish, he could still hold expert power based on his ability to convince the other fisherman that he was knowledgeable.
    Overall, many of the forms of power are only perceived by others based on character traits (or flaws) of the individual with the power (Robin, 1997). Power is often associated with influence, having power does not mean that a person holds authority over another. Having power doesn’t mean that a person can control another, rather having power over somebody suggests that in a particular circumstance one person will hold an advantage in decision making and priority over another. Power is seen through the eye of the beholder, since power is perceived, it is not always valid. Authority, on the other hand, must be valid in order to be real.
    Authority as a concept is very intricate, and can be hard to grasp. However, it is important to understand, because authority seeps into every aspect of our social interactions. Authority is based on power, and is characterized in terms thereof; more specifically, in terms of having certain power to control or to influence results. Authority, though similar, is very different from power because authority must be acknowledged and accepted freely, whereas power can exist regardless of acceptance or approval (Cline, 2006). Max Weber, a sociologist, defined three forms of authority based on their legitimacy, which is another important aspect in the topic of authority. The three types of authority, defined by Weber are Legal-Rational, Traditional and Charismatic (Williams, n.d.).
    Legal-Rational authority is best described as authority that is assigned, or given. It is based on a set of logically consistent, abstract regulations that apply to everyone without bias, so long as these persons fit the given criteria. For example, a manager has legal-rational authority because it was granted to him by his superior, who in turn, was acting on the authority granted to him by company policy. Managers have authority over their employees, but not over their customers because a customer does not fit the criteria of “employee.†Under legal-rational authority, management is distant. Principally, this type of authority is restricted to the office and not the role of the boss. For example, the boss has authority over employees on the job, but he has no authority over them in their personal lives, outside of work (Vanagunas, 1989, pp. 396-397).
    Therefore, Mr. Johnson, as the boss, has authority over his employees. At the same time, Mr. Johnson, as himself, has no authority over the employees. His authority is granted by his position, not by his person. In our government, the President is granted authority by Congress, the voting public and ultimately, The Constitution. As President Bush, he has authority over the nation. As George W. Bush, average American Citizen, he has no authority in relation to running the country. In the workplace, authority is given via upper management, the board of directors or company policy.
    Weber’s second type of authority, Traditional Authority, can most simply be put as “the way things are.†It is different from the former in that it is founded in custom and traditions based on years of practice. This is where parents get their authority. Nobody gave it to them; they were not voted into position. Our society’s customs and traditions dictate that parents have authority over their children, plain and simple. It is personal and hands-on, as opposed to the distant nature of legal-rational authority. Traditional authority stems from the person, not from the office. Here, the authority one exercises over his/her subsidiaries would also extend into much of their personal lives. (Vanagunas, 1989, pp. 396-397). For example, it is customary and traditional to treat clients and customers with respect and common courtesy. Even though this may be required by company policy, those policies are based on long-standing business traditions. Furthermore, employees are not bound by the company outside of work. Yet, if an employee bumps into a client in public, Traditional Authority demands that the employee still treat the client as if they were on the job. Here, the client holds Traditional Authority over the employee.
    The third and most famous type of authority is "charismatic authority." Someone has charismatic authority when he/she is perceived by others as being gifted with special powers. These powers can be mystical, as found in many African tribes, or they can be social powers, such as leadership characteristics. Charismatic Authority is almost entirely personal in that its followers loyally and willingly submit themselves to the leader. Consequently, by nature, Charismatic Authority is revolutionary. One must not confuse “Charismatic Authority†with sheer charisma. Charisma in the work place is helpful and motivational, while Charismatic Authority defies logic and disrupts efficiency (Vanagunas, 1989, pp. 396-397).
    Charismatic Authority is the antithesis of Traditional and Legal-Rational authority; thus it is disruptive to an organizational setting. For example, an employee (regardless of management position) whom gathers followers to attempt to start up a labor union could be considered to have Charismatic Authority. If this employee’s actions are disruptive to the work environment and subtract from the efficiency of other employees, his/her actions would be that of Charismatic Authority. On the other hand, if this employee followed proper procedure and etiquette, his/her actions would be an exercise of Legal-Rational authority granted by company policy and employee/labor law. Charismatic Authority is very similar to power in that is relies on the character traits of an individual. This is what most dictators possess. Even though their ideals and morals may be off track, their sheer ability to command the masses and make people believe in them is what gives them Charismatic Authority.
    It is obvious that there are many similarities between power and authority. In fact, the similarities may seem so close, that the two terms are almost indistinguishable. However, the subtle differences are what really separate power and authority. In the very simplest sense, power is perceived by those being affected by it, whereas authority must be granted by someone with the ability to grant it, or by those affected by it. In other words, someone or something (such as a written policy/law) with authority may grant authority. Also, subordinates grant authority to their leader by the act of following.
    One cannot have authority without power. However, one can have power without authority. Every organization possesses employees that collectively hold all five sources of power. It is important for managers to use power to motivate and empower their employees, not to mislead or take advantage of them (Blanchard, 1995). Organizations that are purely driven by power will almost always become corrupted, because power will be abused. Many organizations that try to succeed using power as their main source fail because they hoard knowledge instead of sharing it (Lloyd, 1996). The old saying that “knowledge is power†is only true if organizations retain their power and spread it throughout the organization to motivate all employees. Managers must know how their subordinates view them as a manager; they must know what powers they hold in their employees’ eyes. To be an effective leader, one must to balance the points of power where they work (Blanchard, 1995). In order to balance the points of power a manager must distribute rewards fairly; limit the amount of perceived fear in the workplace and place people where they can best use their knowledge and expertise. This can only be achieved if the authority to do such things is granted to the right individual.
    Since we have only skimmed the surface of the discussion on power and authority in the workplace, there is still much to be determined. What is the most effective combination of power characteristics and authority types for a manager to possess? How is leadership defined in relation to power and authority? Does responsible use of power carry the same yoke as responsible use of authority? All of these questions would add further insight to the dialogue about power and authority in the workplace. Thus far, our observations can easily lead us to conclude that authority is often granted to the most powerful (Glaser, 2006). The rule of thumb is that to rise to a leadership position, we must also bring in to play our ability to use (and perhaps abuse) the five types of power in hope that we will be granted the appropriate type of authority to bring about positive change in an organization.

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