A power relationship refers to the elements of power and dependence. Power reveals the influence on other groups.
One group asks other groups to carry directives and order. A top management group has power over a middle management group.
The former exercises influence on the latter. Power involves the elements of dependence as well.
The marketing group is dependent on the production unit, whereas the production units depend on the marketing group.
Within one group, a team is dependent on other teams. It has been analyzed at several places that mutual dependence makes people rely on each other for the successful performances of their respective departments.
Intergroup power relationships have been analyzed under dimensions of power, determinants of power, power acquisition and outcome of power.
Analyzing Intergroup Power Relationships
1. Dimension of Intergroup Power :
Intergroup power has two major dimensions, weight and domain. The range of activities and extent to which the behaviour of one group can influence the behaviour of the other group is known as the weight of intergroup power.
It is also known as the scope of intergroup power. The extent of power that the financial department exerts on the production department for allocating funds is defined as the dimensions of intergroup power.
The power domain is large in a large group. Domain of power is the real power wherein one can influence other groups.
It is the integrating department’s power over others. When the domain is large, the scope or weight is high. Decrease in dimension is visible when weight and domain of power is small.
2. Determinants of Power:
The determinants of power are uncertainty, substitutability and importance. The power is visible when an interacting group copes with uncertainty.
Uncertainty reduces the power. The amount of certainty reveals the degree of success. The increased certainty in the organization leads to more feasibility of power.
However, uncertainty is inherent in an organization because of the lack of information, unpredictability of the unforeseen events and absence of alternative actions.
The ability to cope with the certainty and to control unpredictable items decides the power. More power is needed in uncertainty for absorbing the losses of uncertainty.
Coping with uncertainty confers power through dependence. Uncertainty is reduced by effective use of power.
The production department tries to reduce costs and increases quantity and quality through the power vested in it.
This power facilitates the production department to manage all its functions. Similarly, the marketing department has certain power to manage its uncertainties.
Uncertainty can be removed only when an organization has sufficient power. Uncertainty has to be coped with intergroup power.
The intergroup power depends on the degree of substitutability, i.e. the resources and services required for intergroup performance.
The more the resources and services needed, the less power it has on the group. Substitutability is related to the interdependence between two or more groups.
The interdependence may be pooled, sequential and reciprocal. Less substitutability has greater centralized power. Different mechanisms of substitutability also decide the degree of power.
The integrative importance of a group influences the overall success and performance. Integrative importance is related to the degree of resources, requirements and performance impact.
The degree to which the resources provided by one group are converted by the activities of another group is known as resource requirement. Performance impact refers to the elimination.
If production has stopped, the marketing functions are reduced. The importance of the production department is visualized in this context.
The machine department has higher integrative importance because both production and marketing depend mainly on the functions of the machine department. Integrative importance has a great impact on intergroup performance.
3. Power Acquisition:
Power acquisition is a cooperative strategy because it involves two or more groups for intergroup relationships.
It is a conscious agreement between two or more groups to reduce the uncertainties of interacting groups. Power acquisition is possible through contracting, cooping up and coalescing.
Contracting power acquisition is through agreements and controls. The management faces uncertainty, but it has to bring in stability.
The conflicting groups must arrive at a contracting level so that the bargaining agreement may bring peace and harmony.
Management and labour acquire power through contracting. If the salaries and perks are increased, labourers are satisfied and they work with devotion and dedication.
Scooping up strategy acquires power through absorbing new groups into the existing bigger group.
The weaker group is absorbed by the stronger group. The internal fighting between such groups is avoided by the organization.
Mergers, absorptions and amalgamations have been glaring examples of cooping up strategies of power acquisition.
Certain unnecessary areas of one department are absorbed by the major areas of the department.
Absorption has certain disadvantages because the basic virtues of the absorbed areas are lost within the major area.
Coalescing is another strategy of power acquisition. Coalescing is a combination or joint venture.
When two groups are fighting unnecessarily, they arrive at the conclusion that they should develop a joint venture avoiding their personal attributes.
Coalescing or coalitions are frequently observed in different areas and groups of an organization for gaining the advantages of power.
Uncertainty and inter-competition are avoided. The coalescing becomes a dominant coalition when top executives combine together to form a forum of management.
Coalition is accepted as long as it functions well and does not involve any friction. It is discarded and dissolved when it ceases to function.
4. Outcomes of Power:
The outcome of intergroup power is visualized in the form of the individual satisfaction levels of employees and goal achievements of the organization.
The morale of employees is enhanced while maintaining cohesiveness and trying to achieve productivity.
Intergroup performance is achieved at the organizational level with increased profitability, efficiency, turnover and adaptability.
The outcomes of power are the result of compliance with remunerative and normative techniques as well as the involvement of employees in work performance.
Intergroup power and acquisition strategies have great impacts on work performance. The intergroup power and acquisition are dependent upon the substitutability, coping with uncertainty and interactive importance which are arrived at respectively from interdependence, task uncertainty and time and goal orientation.
Power is determined and acquired through position and organization strategies. The consequences of intergroup power relates to compliance and involvement.
Compliance involves remunerative, coercive and normative attributes. Power is visible through the allocation of pay, prize benefits, assignments and so on.
Coercive power is seen when labour is rowdy and is unwilling to accept punitive actions. Prestige or esteem and moral persuasion are observed in power compliance.
The type of involvement refers to demand compliance. Use of compliance and involvement increases the effectiveness of an organization.