The Power Game and the Players

Henry Mintzberg

In “The Power Game and the Players”, Mintzberg analyzed the exercise of power systematically. There are three ways to work/survive in an organization, where loyalty is to stay and contribute as expected; exit is to leave; voice is to stay and try to change the system. Mintzberg thought that power means to voice, which is to make an attempt at changing the practices, policies, and outputs of the firm from which one buys or of the organization to which one belongs.

In exercising the power, the influencer requires 1) some source or basis of power, 2) the expenditure of energy in a 3) political skillful way.

Three prime bases of power are control of 1) a resource, 2) a technical skill, or 3) a body of knowledge. Furthermore, the resource, skill or knowledge must be 1) essential to the functioning of the organization, 2) concentrated and 3) nonsubstitutable. Basis of power also includes exclusive rights/ privileges to impose choices and the control of an important constituency which itself has influence.

Mintzberg thought that people in power are influencers, consisting of both internal influencers and external influencers.

  1. The internal influencers are people who use voice, charging with making the decision and taking the actions and determining the outcomes, which express the goals pursued by the organization. Internal influencers include 1) the general management of the organization, 2) operators, 3) managers, 4) analysts of the techno structure, 5) support staff, and 6) ideology of the organization
  2. The external influencers are nonexployees who use their bases of influence to try to affect the behavior of the employees, including 1) the owners who hold the legal title to the organization, 2) the associates, the suppliers of the organization’s input resources, the clients for its output products and services, as well as its trading partners and competitors, and 3) employee associations and 4) the organization’s various publics and 5) the directors of the organization.

Mintzberg thought that having basis of power (resource, skill or knowledge) is not enough. The players need to act and become real influencer, expending their energy and using the basis of power.

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