Module 1 – imperative forces
Module 1 – imperative forces
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The basic unit of any organization is the individual – and yet, for an organization to be successful, the individual must relinquish his personal judgments and biases in the name of the organization, or at the outset, its representative - Module 1 – imperative forces introduction. This is because organizations cannot depend on an individual’s inconsistency, seeing that humans are creatures of emotions prone to passion and other needs. Hence, it becomes important, even necessary, for the organization to compel its members to forego their individual judgments and accept direction as deemed proper by the organization. Otherwise, the individual as the economic man will pursue only his selfish interests at the cost of the organization’s well-being. For the organization to compel its members to follow, it needs to employ mechanisms, or imperative forces. Briefly, these are: discipline, power, and authority. These are used to strip off the individual his personal judgments, for him to function as a part of the organization and complete his tasks akin to a part of a well-oiled machine. These imperative forces compel the individual to be an employee, a worker, which can be translated as something less human since at the heart of it what the organization seeks is to take out the individuality and replace individual thinking with its all-encompassing mandate.
Discipline is the least imposing of the imperative forces because by its very nature it stems from the individual’s initiative, and it is mostly automatic, being an integral part of an individual, a manner of habit. But discipline is the most elusive, because it rests solely on the individual. This is problematic because not everybody has the same brand of discipline, nor the same extent or intensity. Discipline is largely individualistic, and to depend solely on the individual’s discipline is fatal. This does not mean that it should not be encouraged, because inherent discipline is a valuable trait as it takes the burden out of the organization and shifts it to the individual. To promote discipline, the organization needs to set up a system of rewards and punishment to encourage disciplined behavior and shun otherwise. Relying solely on this system of “carrot-and-sticks” can be expensive and impractical. Individuals are more likely to act out of personal interests and not for the interests of the company. Hence, more compelling imperative forces must be employed like power and authority.
Power is the ability of A to make B do something that otherwise B would not do without A. Power’s dimension includes influence on one end and coercion on the other. Power can be used in different ways – to dispense rewards and punishment, to utilize and manipulate emotional hold over people to make them concede or follow, and to strategically withhold and make available information to serve one’s own purposes. Power compels individuals to follow more than discipline, but it, too, has its limitations. For one, the nature of power is dynamic – whoever has the resources is likely to be the one to have enormous power, albeit a naked power.
In lieu of this, the power holder’s lack of legitimacy, or even perceived lack of legitimacy, can cause serious problems and render the situation unstable and ineffective. In the same way, perceived legitimacy can be more than enough to make others follow. Power can rest on perception. Further, limitations on resources have direct impact on the strength and length of the power and power tends to be diffused as it passes through the ranks. Power can be unstable because it does not always have legitimacy, and often it is employed in informal relationships. Power is a subtle mechanism, and for this reason it is difficult to track and is prone to being used for achieving personal interests at the expense of the organization. For example, work conditions and production may suffer because of organizational politics; inefficiency may arise as key actors withhold important information in the hope of using these as tokens to be traded for favors. Moreover, power tends to dominate only the visible behavior. It can make people follow, but they may do so against their own wishes, keep grudges, or try to get back at some other way. This can result in low quality of performance, ineffective working conditions, and strained working relationships. Although the reality of power can compel individuals to act accordingly, another imperative force asks individuals to give up their personal judgment willingly.
Authority makes its subjects willingly accept it, and consequently making those who accept and recognize it concede the “right” to exercise judgment, make decisions, and issue instructions, and so on. Recognizing authority makes the individual forego making personal judgments and follow the organization, or the representative of the organization, the one given the authority because he or she is duly recognized as representing a social institution and as advancing important values. Authority’s hold can be formal, informal, based on rational-legal, and on charisma.
Formal authority is traditional, exemplified by codified rules and laws, the voting of a leader and a systemic approach of doing things; while informal authority reinforces it with the rituals and norms that have been put into place in accordance with the established order. Rational-legal authority, on the other hand, is the ability to exercise controls over others based on a legal framework. This kind of authority is secure in that it finds it roots in the legal framework that is also present in society as a whole; it is universal, lending it more credence and less room for dissenting individuals. Authority drawing from charisma is not as stable as the first three types of authority because its focus is on the personal embodiment of a recognized value. However, it has the potential strength of drawing legions, as in the case with revered religious leaders. The downside, of course, is that once the holder of the charismatic authority loses his credibility and his hold on people, then the authority most likely dissolves as well. Although authority is stronger than power, it is also more limited in the sense that the person with authority is expected to function and practice his authority within its sphere only. Those with authority can find themselves in the position to promote coordination and is often more effective when he avoids using it because it enhances his influence. And influence allows those subordinate to authority to maintain a feeling of autonomy which ultimately leads to stronger commitment.
These imperative forces compel individuals to act in accordance to the organization’s mandate, to increase coordination and strengthen cohesion within the organization. However, these do not give a complete picture of the dynamics of what goes on in organizations, although they are useful in pushing through with a unilateral frame of thinking towards the fulfillment of functions and the avoidance and resolution of conflicts within organizations.