Power at Work in Organizations

David Knights

in The Oxford Handbook of Critical Management Studies

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199595686
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

 Power at Work in Organizations

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
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This article is organized as follows. While not entirely ignoring everyday views of power, the first section provides a general historical overview of the concept in political and social theory from classical to postmodern perspectives. With this broad framework as background, the second section focuses on power as utilized in mainstream organization theory. A selection, including theories of contingency, resource dependency, institutionalism, and pluralism, is examined, albeit critically. Although the mainstream is important since it provides the context to which critical approaches are responding, it generally remains comparatively under-theorized such that commonsense conceptions of power as a property of persons, groups, institutions, or systems remain central to their analyses. This is also far from uncommon within certain examples of critical approaches to management, organization, and work, especially those grounded in such a version of Marxism as labour-process theory, which is discussed in the third section.

Keywords: power at work; social theory; mainstream organizations; resource dependency; institutionalism; pluralism; labour-process theory

Article.  8911 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Business Ethics

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