The Power of Power

James G. March

In “The Power of Power”, James G. March explored the power of power in empirical theories of social choice

March emphasized the importance of research on power and influence applied to organizational management and raised three approaches to the study of power, discussing their advantages and limitations.

Power is a major explanatory concept in the study of social choice. The core question of power applied to management is question about to what extent one specific concept of power is useful in the empirical of mechanisms for social choice. And thus March raised three assumptions:

  1. The choice mechanism involves certain basic components (individuals, groups, roles, behaviors, labels, etc.)
  2. Some amount of power is associated with each of these components
  3. The responsiveness (as measured by some direct empirical observation) of the mechanism to each individual component is monotone increasing with the power associated with the individual component
  4. Identify three approaches to the study of power
  5. The experimental study

The greater the power of the individual, the greater the changes induced and the more successful the resistance to changes. It is possible to vary power of a specific subject systematically and arbitrarily in an experimental setting. The effectiveness of a priori power in producing behavior change is highly variable

  1. The community study

How power is distributed in the community; what relation exists between power and the possession of certain other socioeconomic attributes; how power is exerted. Focusing on specialization, activation, and unity of power holders, it identified that different individuals are powerful with respect to different things. And the most people in most communities are powerless.

  1. The institutional study

It is the analysis of the structure of institutions to determine the power structure within them

  1. Six models of social choice and the concept of power

A model means a set of statements about the way in which individual choices (or behavior) are transformed into social choices, and a procedure for using those statements to derive some empirically meaningful predictions.

  1. Chance models, in which we assume that choice is a chance event, quite independent of power
  2. Basic force models, in which we assume that the components of the system exert all their power on the system with choice being a direct resultant of those powers.
  3. Force activation models, in which we assume that not all the power of every component is exerted at all times.
  4. Force conditioning models, in which we assume that the power of the components is modified as a result of the outcome of past choices.
  5. Force depletion models, in which we assume that the power of the components is modified as a result of the exertion of power on past choices.
  6. Process models, in which we assume that choice is substantially independent of power but not a chance event
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