Analyzing Power Imbalances ID Course: Date: Abstract The purpose of this coursework is to analyse the impact of power imbalances on conflict mediation process. For this analysis, power imbalances in contemporary organizational structure have been considered…
1. Introduction: Most of the great achievements of contemporary organizations have been accomplished by adopting various new strategies in almost every sphere including organizational culture, systems, technology, human resources, operations etc. These achievements have not only increased competition but also necessitated, or even given rise to, various changes in management. One such change is the organizational structure that has changed to being a flat structure from a hierarchical one in most of the organizations. On the one hand, the flat organizational structure has helped in reducing the number of managerial levels in order to improve accessibility and increase accountability besides improving efficiency, reducing costs and better empowerment; on the other hand, this structure has bred power imbalances with greater intensity than the hierarchical structure, thus giving rise to potential conflicts. Paradoxically, these power imbalances also hinder attempts to manage conflicts. Present discourse will focus on understanding this aspect of power imbalance at workplaces and its impact on conflict management based on certain situations. Recommendations will be made based on the issues identified and conclusions will be finally drawn. 2. An understanding of power and conflict: Power refers to the elusive force experienced by people, usually based on their position. According to Daft (2009), power may be defined as “the potential ability of one person (or department) to influence other people (or department) to carry orders or to do something they would not otherwise have done” (p. 497). Power is a very important strength that managers/leaders should use in the most appropriate manner to achieve desired outcomes. Power is used to set goals, define targets, rules and policies, and to manage performance; power is also used to manage conflicts among individuals and groups. Daft (2009) explains that conflict is usually the outcome of interaction among people or groups with differing opinions. Conflicts can either be helpful or harmful for the organizations and its employees. Conflicts that can instigate differential thinking and innovative options are usually helpful, whereas conflicts in terms of goals, understanding, opinions, interpretation, perception etc are usually harmful and can lead to severe consequences. 3. Relationship between power and conflict: To deal with all kinds of conflicts, managers leverage their position and power. According to the conflict theory, power is an essential element in managing conflict or in influencing others to produce desired outcome (Andersen & Taylor, 2007). Power by virtue of position provides the authority for individuals to exercise their aspirations, which can also be a cause for conflict sometimes. Moreover, usage of power, by virtue of position, to manage conflicts can be a hindrance. All these instances could be a result of the phenomenon associated with power and its usage that is usually, and also, the reason for power imbalance. 4. Power imbalance and conflict management: Weinstein (2001) has extensively elaborated on the impact of power imbalance in mediation process. In this elaboration, she has constantly emphasized on the fact that the organization’s success and instances impacted by power imbalances cannot be separated. Very often, the hierarchical positions that decide the intensity or scope of power itself act as the causes for conflicts. For instance, in the flat organizational ...
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