Power and Authority – Meaning, Definitions, Types and Theories

2. Personal Power
Personal power comes from an individual’s unique characteristics. Personal power can be of following types:

i. Expert Power
Expert power is influence wielded as a result of expertise, special skill, or knowledge. Expertise has become one of the most powerful sources of influence as the world has become more technologically oriented. As jobs become more specialized, we become increasingly dependent on experts to achieve goals. So, although it is generally acknowledged that physicians have expertise and hence expert power—most of us follow the advice that our doctor gives us—you should also recognize that computer specialists, tax accountants, economists, industrial psychologists, and other specialists are able to wield power as a result of their expertise.

ii. Referent Power
Referent power develops out of admiration of another and a desire to be like that person. It helps explain, for Instance, why celebrities are paid millions of dollars to endorse products in commercials. Marketing research shows that people like Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar have the power to influence your choice of chocolates and soft drinks. With a little practice, you and I could probably deliver as smooth a sales pitch as these celebrities, but the buying public doesn’t identify with you and me. One of the ways in which individuals acquire referent power is through charisma. Some people have referent power who, while not in formal leadership positions, nevertheless are able to exert influence over others because of their charismatic dynamism, likeability, and emotional effects on us.
Therefore, referent power is based on identification with a person who has desirable resources or personal traits. If I like, respect, and admire you, you can exercise power over me because I want to please you.

iii. Charismatic Power
Charismatic power emerges from an individual’s charisma, a quality that is unique. Because of this charisma, the individual can articulate attractive visions, take personal risk, demonstrate environmental sensitivity and is willing to engage in behavior that most others consider unconventional. Political power has been more popular in political fields. In business field, persons like Dhirubhai Ambani , Ratan TATA etc. have generated much influence of their charismatic qualities.

French and Raven (1959) provide five bases of power:
i. Reward power: based on the ability to reward another
ii. Coercive power: based on the ability to punish another
iii. Legitimate power: based on the holder’s position
iv. Referent power: based on charisma or popularity
Expert power: based on knowledge or expertise Mintzberg (1983) provides five additional bases of power:
v. Control of a critical resource
vi. Control of a critical technical skill
vii. Control of a critical body of knowledge
viii. Legal prerogatives (e.g., exclusive rights)
ix. Access to any of the other four bases

Additionally, according to Mintzberg, an influencer must have both the “will and skill” to use his or her base(s) of power.
Salancik and Pfeffer (1977) have contributed valuable insights into the under-standing of power in organizational settings. They view power as a positive and necessary force for change and progress in an organization and believe that power bases can be created by the placement of allies in key positions.

Importance of Power

i. Power is required in the organization for the effective performance of activities of the people. In its absence, there may be chaos which is undesirable in any organisation.
ii. Power is commonly recognized as the basis of authority and responsibility.

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