Power in Coalitions

What power tactics do people use it translate power bases into specific action? That is, what options do individuals have for influencing their bosses, coworkers, or employees? And are some of these options more effective than others? Let us review popular tactical options and the conditions under which one may be more effective than another.

Research has identified nine distinct influence tactics

1. Legitimacy: Relying on one’s authority position or stressing that a request is in accordance with organizational policies or rules.
2. Rational persuasion: Presenting logical arguments and factual evidence to demonstrate that a request is reasonable.
3. Inspirational appeals: Developing emotional commitment by appealing to a target’s values, needs, hopes, and aspirations.
4. Consultation: Increasing the target’s motivation and support by involving him or her in deciding how the plan or change will be done.
5. Exchange: Rewarding the target with benefits or favors in exchange for following a request.
6. Personal appeals: Asking for compliance based on friendship or loyalty.
7. Ingratiation: Using flattery, praise or friendly behavior prior to making a request.
8. Pressure: Using warnings, repeated demands and threats
9. Coalitions: Enlisting the aid of other people to persuade the target or using the support of others as a reason for the target to agree.

With the above back ground in this article we are outlining in detail Power in Coalitions. Those out of power and seeking to be in will first try to increase their power individually. Why share the spoils if one doesn’t have to? But if this proves ineffective, the alternative is to form a coalition – an informal group bound together by the active pursuit of a single issue. The logic of a coalition is there is strength in numbers.

The natural way to gain influence is to become a power holder. Therefore those who want power will attempt to build a personal base. But, in many instances, this may be difficult risky costly, or impossible. In such case, efforts will be made to form a coalition of two or more “outs” who by joining together can combine their resources to increase rewards for themselves. Successful coalitions have been found to contain fluid membership and are able to form swiftly achieve their target issue, and quickly disappear.

What predictions can we make about coalition formation? First, coalitions in organizations often seek maximize their size. In political science theory, coalitions move the other way – they try to minimize their size. They tend to be just large enough to exert the power necessary to achieve their objectives. But legislatures are different from organizations. Specifically, decision making in organization does not end just with selection from among a set of alternatives. A decision must also be implemented. In organizations, the implementation of and commitment to the decision is at least as important as the decision itself. It is necessary therefore for coalitions in organizations to seek a broad constituency to support the coalition’s objectives. This means expanding the coalition to encompass as many interests as possible.

Another prediction about coalitions relates to the degree of interdependence within the organization. More coalitions will likely be created when there is great deal of task and resource interdependence. In contrast, there will be less interdependence among subunits and less coalition formation activity when subunits are largely self contained or resources are abundant.

Finally coalition formation will be influenced by the actual tasks that workers do. The more routine is the task of a group, the greater the likelihood that coalitions will form. The more routine is the work that people do greater is their substitutability for each other and thus, the greater their dependence. To offset this dependence, they can be expected to resort to a coalition. This helps to explain the historical appeal of labor unions especially among low skilled workers. Such employees are better able to negotiate improved wages, benefits, and working condition as united coalition than if they acted individually. A one person strike has little power over management. However, if a firm’s entire workforce goes on strike, a management has a serious problem.

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