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French and Raven: Social Power Bases in Organizations

French and Raven described the sources of power that people have as ‘social power bases’.

Watching this video is worth 3 Management Courses CPD Points*.
(See below for more details)

The Nature of Organizations
This video is part of course module number 6.1.3
Program 6: Managing within Organizations
Course 1: The Nature of Organizations
Section 3: Power in Organizations

Other videos in this section include:
What is Power? https://youtu.be/mIlnEkzIiHs
Amitai Etzioni: How Organizations Secure Compliance https://youtu.be/4mSdeda8elk
Robin Fincham: Three Levels of Organizational Power https://youtu.be/Qcd_UcHGCe8
The Power of Governance https://youtu.be/QI4pGksO4Ns
Empowerment: The Organization Giving up its Power https://youtu.be/B4-_u51mffk

John French and Bertram Raven described the sources of power that people have, listing five categories that they called ‘social power bases’.

The word ‘social’ implies that power exists because of the relationship between the holder and the person who is dependent on the holder. This is contrary to other views that power is a part of the organization (as Etzioni implied – https://youtu.be/4mSdeda8elk ) or of individuals themselves.

These are derived from the resources that the holder has at their disposal.
1. Legitimate Power – seniority of position
2. Reward Power – ability to offer inducements
3. Coercive Power – ability to impose sanctions
4. Expert Power – skills and expertise
5. Referent Power – personal characteristics; charisma
Subsequently, they added a further two.
6. Information Power – the knowledge you can access
7. Connection Power – the people you can access

Legitimate Power
Also Hierarchical Power – comes from your place in a hierarchy and depends on other people’s willingness to defer to your seniority. Tied to your role, most effective in autocratic organizations and when dealing with a crisis.

Reward Power
Comes from ability to reward performance and offer inducements to secure it. What rewards will be effective is the subject of theories of motivation. They need not be material – recognition and praise are often highly valued.

Coercive Power
Evil twin of Reward Power – comes from ability to make credible threats of punishment. Motivation based on fear is often successful, but it is not sustainable in organizations where members have choices.

Resource Power
Granting or withholding resources might be seen as Reward or Coercive Power, but this explains how relatively low-status administrators acquire power in organizations: from their position as ‘gate-keeper’ to a valued resource.

Expert Power
Comes from the expertise you have from study, practice, and experience. You are in control of this power although it takes constant investment to keep it up-to-date.

Information Power
Comes from the information you hold, or can access. Could be seen as a form of resource power, but in many sectors of today’s economy, ‘knowledge workers’ access information themselves: power over resources is granted by the organization.

Connection Power
Comes from the people you know and your ability to deploy a network of relationships to good effect. You can harness their power positively (expertise, information) or negatively (coercion).

Referent Power
True personal power – often called charisma. Comes from how people view you: integrity, personality, character, likeability, and rapport with others. One power base which no one can strip from you, so is well worth investing in.

1. What power bases do you hold within different organizations (work or social) that you are a part of? (2 MC CPD Points)
2. Survey the people you work with. What social power bases do they hold? (2 MC CPD Points)

Free Resources
– CPD Tools – https://gum.co/MC-CPD
Paid resources
– Management Courses Onboarding Kit – https://gum.co/MC-ObK ($3)

– Understanding Organizations https://geni.us/oB774Do
– Images of Organization https://geni.us/hrOemEs
– Inside Organizations: 21 Ideas for Managers https://geni.us/YwwL
– Gods of Management: The Four Cultures of Leadership https://geni.us/bpPeC5

Managers Need a Basic set of kit to do your job well. Here are my top recommendations: https://kit.co/MikeClayton/manager-s-work-kit (the links are affiliated)

Management Courses Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Points
You can record your Management Courses CPD points on our free, downloadable CPD record log.
Download it at: https://gum.co/MC-CPD

Each video has two levels of MC CPD points. For this video:
– If you simply watched the video, record 3 MC CPD points
– If you also carried out all of the recommended exercises, score a total of 7 MC CPD points

Links to our book recommendations are affiliated through Amazon

#Management #ManagementCourses #French&Raven


Kim Cameron: Positive Organizational Scholarship
Charles Handy: Philosopher of Organizations
Edgar Schein: The Master of Organizational Culture
Harold Geneen: Data-driven Charismatic Organization
Chester Barnard: Organizations as Networks of People
Max Weber: The Father of Organizational Theory
How we Work: Geert Hofstede’s 6 Cross-Organization Cultural Dimensions
National Culture within an Organization: Geert Hofstede’s 6 Cultural Dimensions
Quinn and Cameron: Competing Values Model of Organizational Culture
Edgar Schein’s 3 Levels of Organizational Culture
Cultural Web: Johnson & Scholes on Where Culture Originates
Introduction to Organizational Culture
Empowerment: The Organization Giving up its Power
Power in Organizations: The Power of Governance
Robin Fincham: Three Levels of Organizational Power
Amitai Etzioni: How Organizations Secure Compliance
Organizational Power: What is Power?
Virtual Organizations
Brian Robertson’s Holacracy Organizational Model
The Agile Organization
Adhocracy Organizational Model
Peter Senge’s Learning Organization
The Matrix Organization Model
Charles Handy’s Triple-I Company
Charles Handy’s Federal Organization Model
Charles Handy’s Shamrock Organization
Charles Handy’s Gods of Management
Henry Mintzberg’s 4 plus 2 Organizational Types
Edgar Schein’s Two Organizational Cultures
Why do we need Organizations? Structure vs Agility
The Features of Organizations: What an Organization Needs
Organizations as Processes: Understanding an Organization as a Set of Processes
Organizations as Structures: Understanding an Organization as a Structure
Morgan’s 8 Organizational Metaphors: An Organization is Like a…
What is an Organization? – the Nature of Organizations

Mike Clayton

About Mike Clayton 

Dr Mike Clayton is a (former) Project Manager and now a management educator. Having trained thousands of people at live workshops, seminars, and conferences, he now delivers training mainly via video. He has 14 books with international publishers and runs two successful YouTube channels. He is also the founder of OnlinePMCourses.com

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