Some cases on Power and Politics

At University of Kansas: Coach Gets Boss Fired?

You know you have power when you can get your boss fired. That’s what apparently happened at the University of Kansas in the spring of 2003.

Roy Williams had been KU’s head men’s basketball coach for 15 years. During those years, he built a strong following. He averaged nearly 28 wins a season and graduated his athletes. Fans and alumni loved the guy. But Williams was a graduate of the University of North Carolina and in the spring of 2003, UNC was looking for a new coach for its men’s basketball program. Born and raised in North Carolina and a former assistant coach at UNC. Williams was an obvious candidate for the position. KU’s administration was determined to try to keep him. Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway promised to do whatever he can to encourage (Williams) to remain. That included firing his boss – athletic director Al Bohl.

Bohl had been hired in 2001 to replace the longtime athletic director, Bob Frederick, who was a close friend of Williams. But Bohl and Williams never hit it off and had had numerous clashes. So KU’s administration decided to let Bohl go in hope that this would make Williams’s job at KU more comfortable ad make it easier for him to turn down any offer from UNC.

Bohl was frank in his assessment. He believed the Kansas basketball coach had the power to hold his athletic director in his hand like a dove. And he had a choice to either crush Bohl with his power of influence or let me fly with my vision for a better total program. The coach chose to crush the director.

Incidentally, KU’s actions didn’t get the desired response. Williams was offered the UNC positions and, after considerable deliberation, decided to return to North Carolina. After a rough season in his first year at UNC Williams’s Tarheels won the National Championship. Meanwhile, Kansas hired Illinois coach Bill Self to replace Williams. Williams and Self have had their ups and downs at UNC and Kansas respectively, and at the start of the 2005-2006 season, neither team was ranked in the top 25. And what is Bohl up to? He is penning a novel about basketball.

Influence Tactics in China:

Researchers usually examine cross cultural influences in business by comparing two very different cultures, such those from Eastern and Western societies. However, it is also important to examine differences within a given culture, as those differences can sometimes be greater than differences between cultures.

For example, although we might view all Chinese people as being alike due to their shared heritage and appearance, China is a big country housing different cultures and traditions. A recent study examining Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, and Hong Kong managers explored how the three cultural sub-groups differ according to the influence tactics they prefer to use.

Though managers from all three places believe that rational persuasion and exchange are the most effective influence tactics, managers in Taiwan tend to use inspirational appeals and ingratiation more than managers from either Mainland China or Hong Kong. The study also found that managers from Hong Kong rate pressure as more effective in influencing others than do managers in Taiwan or Mainland China. Such differences have implications for business relationships. For example, Taiwanese or Mainland Chinese managers may be taken aback by the use of pressure tactics by the Hong Kong manager. Likewise, managers from Hong Kong may not be persuaded by managers from Taiwan, who tend to use ingratiating tactics. Such differences in influence tactics may make business dealings difficult. Companies should address these issues, perhaps making their managers aware of the differences within cultures.

So, managers need to know what variations exist within their local cultures so they can be better prepared to deal with others Managers who fail to realize these differences may miss out on opportunities to deal effectively with others.