#learn power wednesdays: Power in organisations or zones of uncertainty


In yellow: The more crucial the zone of uncertainty controlled by an individual or group is to the success or survival of an organisation, the more it is source of power (source Graph)

Michel Crozier and Erhard Friedberg wrote “L’acteur et le système
in 1977, a classic primer on conflict in organisations shedding light on naturally occurring organisational power struggles. I am flagging it up for our power academy where under the heading “Organisations and Power”, I will be pondering the question as to how power resources can be bundled together to create new or improved power vectors at the level of a state. Power is not created out of thin air, it is the result of organisational processes. An example for an improved power vector would be better communication and coordination among different ministries involved in a certain policy. Federating power resources of course relies on organisations to co-operate, and often, this implies for them to change their ways. Which is famously tricky.

But let’s have a look as to why making things work at the level of one organisation is already difficult enough:

In any organisation, individuals and groups, depending on their skills and
functions, all have their own visions as to how the sum total of the
collective should work. These visions never overlap exactly and power
conflicts ensue.

Power resources are:

1. Skills
Expert knowledge or experience in a given context vital for an organisation.

2. The ability to negotiate an organisation’s relationship with its environment 

3. Mastering communication
of a decision does not only depend on its content, but on the ability
to prepare the ground in advance and to spread information

4. Power derived from organisational rules
In a power struggle, those knowing and knowing how to use an organisation’s rules are at a clear advantage.

All four power resources help master zones of uncertainty, which in themselves give rise to power.

A new revised version of the book came out in 2014. I will look for an online to post version, haven’t found one so far.

Johanna M

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