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The organizational sociologist Amitai Etzioni distinguished three means by which organizations (see organization theory) could secure compliance from their members—essentially three types of power by which organizations could be classified. Coercive power, based on physical means, rests on the real or potential use of physical force to enforce compliance with orders. Remunerative or utilitarian power rests on the material means provided by money or some other reward which the members desire and the organization controls. Finally, normative or identitive power uses symbolic means to secure loyalty, by manipulating symbols such as prestige or affections. Typically, prison regimes employ the first of these means, business organizations the second, and collegiate organizations the third.

Etzioni also argued that three kinds of involvement by members could be identified in organizations—alienative, calculative, and moral—covering the range from negative to positive feelings among participants. These do not correspond to the types of compliance on a one-to-one basis; rather, when cross-classified against the latter, they yield a nine-fold typology of compliance relationships, embracing six cells in which the dominant power system does not correspond to the involvement of the members, thus inducing strain towards congruence in one or other dimension. Thus, for example, universities, which are organized around symbolic power, do not function effectively when calculative involvement becomes the norm among teaching staff (see Etzioni's A Comparative Analysis of Complex Organisations, 1961).

Subjects: Sociology.


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