Group Dynamics and the Public Sphere

Psychology in the Workplace

Where does power come in?

Power offers numerous privileges, in particular, greater control over one’s life, which is highly correlated with life satisfaction. Power also offers social status, which for many people is an end in itself. There are several avenues to power in the workplace, including control over the distribution of rewards and punishments (authority), professional expertise, or the use of personal charm. Because the pursuit of power is such a potent and frequent motivator, there is often competition between different subsystems over access to power, or even access to the symbols of power.

Consider how different departments or divisions can fight over office space, control over budgets, hiring decisions, and even status symbols such as the corner office. Of course, such competition can occur among smaller units within these subsystems, such as individuals or coalitions of individuals. Likewise, in pursuit of power or in an attempt to maintain power, people frequently build alliances and coalitions. One’s network of alliances is a powerful tool within office politics. However, it is important to recognize that much of this maneuvering is not conscious, and deliberate calculation may play a small part of this behavior.


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