Most social scientists define power as “the capacity to get what you want over the resistance of others” and influence as “the translation of power into action.” “Power and Influence in Management” examines the bases of subunit and individual power in organizations and the means by which subunit and individual power is translated into influence. The course assumes that leaders sometimes must acquire power to be effective, but recognizes that leaders do not always use power in the interests of the organization.
Thus, the course explores the positive and negative effects that power and its use can have on organizational effectiveness, and in the process considers the ethics of power and influence. “Power and Influence in Management” also recognizes that leaders are not the only organizational participants who acquire power and exercise influence in organizations. Thus, the course focuses not just on leaders but also middle-level managers and lower-level employees.
The course’s most basic premise is that managers at all levels of the organization can improve their effectiveness (both in pursuit of their own and their organization’s interests) if they better understand how power is accumulated and used in organizations. Class sessions are devoted to discussing case studies in light of theoretical arguments advanced in readings.