Pfeffer, Jeffrey, Managing with Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations, Boston, Mass, Harvard Business School Press, 1992, PP 83-110,111-125, 247-265,


Chapter 5: Resources, Allies and the New Golden Rule

The New Golden Rule: the person with the gold makes the rules. Various kind of resources, including allies, are vitally important as sources of power.

Creating Resources

Lyndon Johnson transformed the morbund Little Congress, an organization of congressional secretaries into a formidable and powerful resource to build his reputation on the Hill.

Robert Moses, as head of various public works positions, exchanged information for power. He was able to use resources as power tools.

Begin by building a power base in a place nobody currently holds. Then use your position to obtain more resources that are more useful and consequention to the organization.

Control of Resource Allocation and Use

Jurisdiction over resources is an important source of power, but only to the extent that one actually controls the resource and it's use. What makes a unit powerless is it's lack over resources it oversees.

Some means of resource control are:

* one who makes the rules governing the resource

* control of physical space

* ensure no other access routes for the resource

Power is vested in us by the dependence of others, and the dependence is a function of how much others need what we control, as well as how many alternative sources for that resource there are.

How Resources Become Important

The politics of budgeting is important. It's important to garner incremental increases to each year's base budget. According to social psychology studies, a loss a a given amount is view as twice as bad as a raise of the same amount is seen as good. Sometimes it's best to build your budget by adding resouces that were'nt part of your orignal budget.

The other nice thing about resources are their committing properties. A resource that was once a luxury may not be seen as a necessity. The organization can become addicted to the new resources.

Implications for Acquiring Power

Control over resources is crucial, even those not excessively visible but vital to other people. One should build dependency incrementally.

Allies

Alles are very important resources. Find others with common interests and build long-term relationships with them. Hire and promote people loyal to you. Building alliances by doing favors not originally sought with ambiguous reciprocity arrangements that create a diffuse, generalized obligation.

Failures in implementation are almost always failures in building coalitions.

Chapter 6:; Location in the Communication Network

Knowledge is power, and one's access to knowledge depends on their location in the communication network.

Freeman delineates three conceptions of network centrality: betweeness, connectedness, and proximity or closedness. Betweeness is the extent a person falls between two other people. Connectedness is the number of others with which one has contact. Closeness is the distance from the focal individual and all other people in the network.

Different network types are more optimal for different task complexity and ambiguity. Also, there are work flow networks, informal communication networks, and friendship networks -- each can be extremely valuable or powerful. Physical location in the flow of communication can also be valuable. Having a job that involves contact and cooperation with many people is crucial. Being on task forces and teams can improve one's interdependence. Even social interactions can be strategic.

Politics of Information and Analysis

Those in control of the facts and the analysis can exercise substantial influence. The manipulation and presentation of facts and analysis are often critical elements of a strategy to exercise power effectively.

All organizations strive for the appearance of rationality and the use of proper procedures, which uncluse using information and analysis to justify decisions, even if this information and analysis is mustered after the fact to ratify a decision that has been made for other reasons.

There is always room to include some advocacy in any data you present.

The appearance of bureaucratic rationality is important to make the organization appear legitimate. Often data is used to "rationally" justify decisions that were actually based on political winds or hunches. Third-party data (like from consultants) can appear even more credible sometimes.

Yet one should not throw out common sense and good judgement either. Data is quite often misleading and unreliable, and may be worse than no data at all.

Selective Use of Information

Often choosing the appropriate criteria can allow the information to support your position. Also using fancy statistics and models can bolster one's data credibility and thus impact.

Why There is Often No Learning

First, it is nearly impossible in most cases to decide if a decision was the "right" one. Many decisions have only indirect effect on widely monitored criteria like profits. Outcomes are the result of multiple decisions. The time from decision to feedback may be too long to be effective. Most decisions are collective, so no one person is to blame if something goes wrong. People are often unwilling to look for causes of failure either. They rarely evaluate the effect of previous organizational changes.