Bases of Power


There are mainly five bases of power in organizations.

  • Legitimate power exists when one person believes that it is right for another to give orders or otherwise exercise authority.
  • Reward power is based on one person’s ability to administer desired outcomes to another and to remove those outcomes that are not desired.
  • Coercive power is based on a person’s ability to affect the punishment that another receives.
  • Referent power is derived from feelings of identity or oneness, that one person has with another, or from the desire for that identity.
  • Expert power is based on one person’s perception that another has needed knowledge, skills, or perspectives in a given area.

Although managers use all these bases of power, some are generally more effective than others, for instance, managers who rely on coercive power are likely to anger and alienate those they coerce. Such managers will encounter secret rebellion. Similarly, those who regularly “pull rank” demanding obedience simply because of their position in the hierarchy, may face resentment and begrudging acceptance.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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