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The need for power

McClelland (1961), identified Power as one of three needs related to management behaviour, the other two being Achievement and Affiliation. Ironically, McClelland claims to have identified a strong power orientation amongst Psychologists! The need for Power is an urge to control others: to be able to influence them and make them do things which perhaps they would not have done if left to themselves. Along with this they accumulate the symbols and status of power and the prestige they consider to go along with it.

McClelland identified four stages within the power orientation:

  1. Drawing inner strength from others - being a loyal follower and serving the power of other people;
  2. Strengthening oneself - beginning to play the power game, collecting symbols of status, one-upmanship, trying to dominate situations;
  3. Self-assertiveness - becoming more aggressive and trying to manipulate situations so as to use other people to achieve one's own targets;
  4. Acting as an instrument of higher authority - identifying with some organisation or authority system and employing the methods learnt in stages 2 and 3 but now being able to claim formal legitimacy.

Blake and Mouton (1964) would feature the kind of person who maximises this kind of approach as having the 'Authority - Obedience' style of management: concentrating on maximising production through the exercise of personal authority and power.

This style of management is described by Chell (1987):

" such a leader combines a high concern for production with a low concern for people. He or she concentrates on maximising production by exercising power and authority, and achieving control over people by dictating what they should do and how they should do it. Typically he or she will 'drive him - or herself and others', investigate situations to ensure control and that others are not making mistakes; defend own ideas and opinions even though it may mean rejecting those of others; deal with conflict by either trying to cut it off or winning own position; make own decisions; is rarely influenced by others; and is not afraid to pinpoint other people's weaknesses and failures."



Organization Theory: Selected Classic Readings

Organization Theory: Selected Classic Readings
by Derek Pugh
  This book spans seventy years of theory from Max Weber's seminal writings on bureaucratic organization to the latest management thinking represented by Handy, Peters and Waterman. Covering three main areas of interest, those of the structure of organizations, management and decision making, as well as that of organizational behaviour, this thoroughly revised and updated edition contains a vast amount of new contributions.
  More information and prices from:
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