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Practicing Organization Development: Leading Transformation and Change, 4th Edition by Roland L. Sullivan, Jacqueline M. Stavros, William J. Rothwell

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Chapter Twenty-Nine

Constructive Use of Power for Organization Development Practitioners

L. Mee-Yan Cheung-Judge

In organization development (OD), context is everything. Organization context provides a reference point for our diagnostic work, the design of our intervention, and helps clients and ourselves to decide upon the best way to support the organization.

Most Western organizations—and/or those whose parent company is from the West—operate from both a political and a pluralist model. A pluralistic organization comprises different interest groups, each asked to pursue individual functional or specialist interests legitimately. In a political organization, decisions are made through coalitions, partnership, jockeying for dominance, influence, or resource control, based on preserving the interest of one's part of the organization. In such organizations, power is an inherent feature. When each subsystem is charged to pursue its own agenda, power often becomes the intervening variable between desired outcomes and actual results. Conflict is also inherent and a way of getting things done; hence, political behavior is part and parcel of the daily work in organizations.

OD practitioners charged to support this organization in change will be ill-equipped if they do not understand power. In this chapter, the following is covered:

  1. What is power and politics?
  2. Why power relates to OD?
  3. The concept of power bases and power strategies.
  4. How to increase power and influence to achieve ...

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