While interdependednce of the power equation began primarily in terms of socialiogy (Emerson 1962), it soon came to be very instrumental in the organizational setups across the developed world.
It has now been established without doubt that power is central to organizational structure (Hall 2002). Infact several sources of power have been established within organizations (Morgan 1986). These can broadly be classified as
Formal authority or legitimate power- This refers to the common concept that leaders or people in the high ladders of hierarchy have authority and compliance on the part of the subordinates is mandatory.
Expert power - This is power secured by the acquiring of skills and expertise in a field, that would be required by others. This is by far the most subjective base in the power model (Podsahoff and Schriesheim. 1985)
Yet all these bases of power rely on interaction of groups with each other. While the benefits and disadvantages of each of these bases are still being researched, the fact that they all involve dependency and interrelationships are clear. The concept of interdependency of power is aptly described in the works of (Emerson 1962, 1964)
It is vital to have an understanding of the distribution of power along both these axes. While it is relatively easy to grasp the power concept along the vertical axis, even simply by applying the model of power bases described above, power dependency along the horizontal axes is relatively harder to visualize. This however is not a reflection of its operational value in an organization.Hence the mutual dependency pattern is observed along both these axes, more obviously in the horizontal than in the vertical, but is present in both.
Several examples of the power dependencies can be observed in an organization setting and we will now go on to have a look at some of them.
Power dependency along the vertical axis, egs.
University structures where students are clearly lower in the hierarchy ladder, provide a good example of interdependencies along the vertical axis. To a large extent students are responsible for the functioning (both financial andoperational) of universities. While the very existence of universities is with the idea of training and teaching students, it is impossible to conceive of universities without the teaching and management staff. Hence while students depend on teachers for learning, and to that extent are under the power of the teachers, the latter also depend on students for the very running of the institution which provides their livelihoods.
In terms of enterprises, a