Power Critical Understanding Difficulties Managers Confront Seeking Essay

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Power critical understanding difficulties managers confront seeking manage change'. Discuss. This undergraduate Essay (Level III) If resources reading list I

Power is critical to understanding the difficulties managers confront when seeking to manage change

Long gone are the times when firms would operate solely to generate profits and this represented their stated mission. Today, economic agents across the globe peg their success not only to financial results, but also to their ability to serve the various needs of the multiple stakeholder categories. In other words, while the final objective is that of registering profits, the aim is attained through a combination of strategic efforts targeted at serving the stakeholders.

For instance, the employees are the most valuable organizational assets and they are treated as such. The customers are not the forces purchasing whatever the company produces, but they represent the force telling the company what to produce. The technologic community is adding to these pressures by creating innovations that stir up competition and generate financial pressures. And last, the public is not just a passive witness, but an active party demanding the company to operate in a socially and environmentally manner.

In such a setting, economic agents are forced to devise and implement a wide array of change strategies by which to ensure that the needs of the stakeholders are attained, as well as the objectives of the firm are accomplished. This subsequently translates into the constant implementation of change strategies.

The implementation of change within the organizational setting is quite a difficult process, generally since change is often met with resistance. In this setting, a question is being posed of whether a powerful manager can reduce the resistance and implement the change. In a different formulation, the premise of the current study is that power is essential to managing organizational change and understanding its complexities. In discussing this assumption, several sources would be consulted.

2. Definition of terms

Organizational change

The concept of organizational change is used to identify a situation in which an economic agent strives to move from the status quo to a different context. The causes of change are different, as are the manifestations. Generically however, the reasons stimulating change are hopes of gains and benefits, including an increased access to resources, better trained staffs or other such, all materializing in financial results.

Managing organizational change

The main challenge with the implementation of change within the organizational climate is represented by the need to manage it. According to the U.S. Legal website, the process of change management is defined as follows:

"Managing organizational change is the process of planning and implementing change in organizations in such a way as to minimize employee resistance and cost to the organization while simultaneously maximizing the effectiveness of the change effort" (U.S. Legal, 2012).


The concept of power is widely debated within the specialized literature, with a multitude of definitions having been forwarded. At this level, the concept of power will be presented from two angles -- the general one and its application within the organizational climate.

From the general perspective, power is understood as the ability of an individual to influence a situation and generate the desired outcomes. Other meanings of power include the ability to control a group, the possession of control and authority over others, be this control political or physical (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2012).

Within the organizational setting, power is defined in terms of the relationships which are developed between the various organizational parties, such as executives, staff members or resources. According to Renee Miller:

"Organizational power is the capacity to persuade a group to work toward the accomplishment of a company's organizational goals" (Miller).

Miller also points out that the style of the organizational power depends primarily on the personal traits of the individual exercising the power. In this light of thoughts, she identifies five different types of organizational power: reward, coercive, expert, legitimate and referent. These types of power are not only characteristic to the manager, but it is also possible for them to be implemented by the same manager, in various circumstances. A good manager will find a balance between the five types of power and use them in accordance to the specifics of each situation.

3. Discussion

In the setting of the numerous challenges posed by the changing internal and external environments, organizational leaders have come to devise a series of methods by which to cope with the mounting pressures. One important method relevant at this stage is represented by Total Quality Management, more commonly known as TQM.

Total Quality Management is generically understood as an integrated manner of conducting business and attaining the organizational objectives through the satisfaction of the customers' needs and wants. The TQM business model is based on the need for all organizational parties to continually be involved in improvements in the organizational processes, products, services, as well as the culture of the entity (American Society for Quality).

Within the specialized literature, this meaning of TQM is commonly accepted. Yet, there are some sources which indicate that Total Quality Management is just another elaborate method for gaining control within the organizational climate. In the field of organizational change, TQM would be used as a method to offer the manager more control in the meaning that he would be better able to reduce the staffs' resistance to change.

According to the American Society for Quality, a solid Total Quality Management plan would include fourteen important steps, some of them including the following:

The adoption of a new organizational philosophy

The elimination of cost and profitability as the sole centers of decision making

The offering of various training programs to the staff members

The elimination of fear from organizational relations

The elimination of any barriers encountered in staff areas

The elimination of numeric goals, quotas and the reinsurance of workers' pride

The development of a solid program targeted on education and self-improvement for all staff members.

This method of managing organizational issues -- including change -- can be perceived as an honorable means to reintroducing pride and satisfaction within the work climate. Still, it can also be viewed as a source of future control. In other words, the lines above have indicated that a large proportion of the strategies at the core of TQM rely on the empowerment of the staff members, on their motivation and gratification. This virtually means that TQM increases the belief in the self of the staff members and stimulates their perception of self importance. This is then used by the management to attain the organizational objectives, revealing as such how Time Quality Management acts as a force controlling the employees (Knights and McCabe, 1999).

The actual research on TQM outside the organizational climate is rather restricted, meaning as such that it is difficult to assess TQM in terms of its social and psychological implications. Still, the tool is an organizational one and it is impossible to assess it outside its context of organizational hierarchy and identity. In other words, Total Quality Management is accepted as a complex tool, integrating notions from both social studies as well as organizational behavior. David Knights and Darren McCabe for instance conclude that TQM is an innovation within the business climate and that it activates in the field of managerial power to managing change. Still, while to some degree it helps manage change, it still cannot control all resistance arising. In other words, TQM does -- to some degree -- help yield control within the entity and manage change.

"TQM cannot be divorced from the hierarchical, functional, and bureaucratic nature of organizational power and identity relations. These relations, are, of course, a condition as well as a consequence of any innovation such as TQM. Nonetheless, power and identity relations mean that at all times there are opportunities for resistance and these contribute to the uncertainty and unpredictability of organizational life. Power and identity relations ensure that […] there 'are' limits to the authority that participants in quality programmes can wield, but equally, these relations also limit the control that management can muster" (Knights and McCabe, 1999).

TQM would as such be perceived as a 'productive' management tool, meaning that it strives to lead to the attainment of the organizational objectives through the involvement of the employees. It strives to convince the staffs that their opinions are important and valued by the company and it integrates their own subjectivity within the organizational processes (McCabe, 2000). The subjectivity is as such viewed as important input within the firm, and it is subsequently used to manage the employees (Knights and Willmott, 1989).

In this manner, TQM is opposed to the 'repressive' means of exercising power within the entity. These repressive manners eliminate any perception of employee opinion or alternative, outside the solution imposed by the management (McCabe, 2000). TQM however -- as well as other innovative management tools -- create the sense of employee importance and they derive their power from appearing to empower the staffs. In such a setting…

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