Revisiting Informal Group Power

Part 3: Revisiting Power in Informal Groups (pg 204-205):

Power in informal groups occurs when there is an imbalance in the reliance and needs between two or more people.  There are also specific characteristics that are associated with people who tend to have power.  “These include energy and physical stamina, an ability to focus one’s interests and energies, sensitivity to others, their interests and needs, flexibility as conditions change, an ability to tolerate conflict, and to submerge one’s ego in the interest of building coalitions and alliances,” Scott and Davis, page 205.  An important aspect of power in informal groups is social standing.  People want to be accepted and to be thought of “highly” by others, so they conform.  Power in informal groups is interesting because power in informal groups has an impact on formal organizations.  This connects with the idea that organizations should be viewed through the open systems perspective, since there are so many informal networks that impact an organization.   As certain people gain power over others in informal groups, this may cause them to utilize that power within a formal organization.  Also, power in informal groups is greatly affected by the number of ties and the social structure of the social network.  A large number of connections to different people impacts the significance of those relations.  The more people a person is connected to, the more power that person then has.  This concept shows the importance of networking as a means of obtaining a career.  This connects to modes of capital, which is also in chapter 8, because the power of managers rests partly on their social capital.

Informal group power directly connects to the concept of networks as pipes and prisms.  The concept of networks as prisms builds off the idea that a person’s status or image helps to establish a sense of legitimacy.  Investors have been pursued by organizations because of their appearance and connections, instead of their actual resources.  This means that the individual’s informal group power is giving them influence within the formal structure of the organization.  The amount of people you know can have a greater impact on an organization’s opinion of you than the abilities and resources that you bring that organization.  It would also be interesting to look into informal group powers connection alliance networks.  Alliance networks form to benefit both organizations, but I am curious to see if certain alliances form out of a result of informal group power.  If executives for two different companies are friends, then they might be more likely to form an alliance due to the networking that already exists between them.  Additionally, informal group power would impact the relationships between employees related to the organization’s alliance. Informal group power can have a large impact on organizations and their formal structure, so it should be taken into account as organizations are studied.


One Response

  1. […] 5, 2011 by meghancrawford Looking through an older BU blog I came across an interesting post Revisiting Informal Group Power.  This post describes the connection between power and informal groups. Power in a formal group is […]

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