In my view, an audit of my organization would yield a picture under which the most power is accrued to the top management, with the amount of authority decreasing at each subsequent level of management. In this sense, our company represents a classical hierarchy advocated by Jacques (1990). At the same time, our hierarchy is restricted to basically three managerial levels. Most of the communication flows down the hierarchical structures, with managers of the lower levels communicating with their superiors and vice versa. This occurs because each position is “defined so as to fulfill a specific function in achieving the purpose of the organization” (Ikerd, 2000). However, the managers are also open to our suggestions and there is hardly a specific way of addressing people in power, except that it is assumed that one will have a respectful tone.
Our organization, however, is not immune to “playing politics” that happens almost anywhere you go. Organizational politics refers to the process in which people are trying to leverage their influence to increase their power in an organization. They can do so with the help of different types of power, be it referent, coercive, reward, legitimate, or expert power (Raven, French, 1958). An alternative organizational structure like the Mondragon Cooperatives does allow for the same politics games; however, it is superior to others in the way it can engage its members to share their opinions openly and bear collective responsibility for their actions (Whyte, 1999). This makes such structures support the most equitable distribution of power.
Power “over” somebody implies that someone has authority to guide the actions of another person, irrespective of the result. The outcome is similar to slavery in which the master has complete authority over the slave and can force him or her to perform any task the master thinks fit. Alternatively, “power to” means that the person is given a specific obligation, and to achieve this purpose is also vested with authority to manage people and other resources. The latter type is more functional and related to the overall purpose of the organization.
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