Power & Empowerment

Authority, empowerment, decision-making, coordination is no doubt the topic that will be discussed in detail. Articles, books, journals, seminars etc are all offering the practicing mangers ideas but no one can really tell what the above mentioned words are, how it can be put into practice. In this essay I attempt to define what the above mentions terms can be assessed as. Also, in this essay will be the discussion on the theories of Herbert A. Simon and then explain what Robert C. Ford and Myron D. Fottler wanted to point out. Subsequent to this, my views on both of the articles will be given.

Robert C. Simon says that authority is one of the most important approaches towards influence as it monitors the behavior of any individuals of any organizations from the outside environment. Authority is defined as the power to make decision, which guides the actions of another, in other words, a typical relationship between superiors and subordinates. The superior constructs and corresponds the orders to the subordinate with the expectations of its fulfillment. Therefore authorities are purely based on behavioral views, the superiors behavior for the subordinate is looked upon a single decision for which for him or her there is no alternative but the accept it, this somewhat a patterned behavior.

Simon later talks on influences saying that it does not always involves authority. Influence is on the basis of evidence and that the evidential environment tends to change the persuasion and suggestions. In a decision persuasion, suggestion and command, are often present. Sometimes when a subordinate presents a suggestion that his or her superior had asked, the acceptance may or may not take place as it is all evidentially based. Decision-making and fixing responsibilities are often found in a particular person who has efficient knowledge as authority is generally comprehended under all situations where suggestions are accepted without any review or consideration.

Simon discusses the four types of sanctions. Firstly, he informs us about the social sanctions, which is apparently the most essential of the sanctions. In a society an individual has certain social situation rules and if those rules are broken he or she suffers the embarrassment of insubordination. Secondly, are the psychological differences that play a crucial role in relationship. Though the study of leadership is in a very primitive stage, there are some indications that there are certain personality types that lead and others follow (Merriam, 46).

Third is sympathy, several conditions imply that this is an effective sanction. Formal sanctions follow which is based on the economic security and status. Therefore obedience would result in a higher position and higher salary. And finally, it is unwillingness, where the assigned task may displease the subordinates and prefer to be told what to do rather than do it on their own. In this the psychological aspects lies way beyond the consequences of an incorrect decision, an example would be the Swiss watch factory whose authorized individual refused to produce digital watches after the company invented it.

Simon continues saying that the most poignant domain of the ‘subordinate’ is that the willingness to accept the decision made by the superior. He concludes saying that power or authority has three functions, i.e. responsibility, expertise and coordination that are noticed to be effective on relationship.

In the article of Robert C. Ford and Myron D. Fottler, they discuss empowerment. Empowerment occurs when the employers are asked to enlarge their conventional jobs including responsibility for quality output by reporting problems and presenting possible solutions, also by making possible changes in the marketplace that impacts the products and allowing the organization to be technically competitive. The dawn of empowerment begins when the individual accepts the responsibility for quality management at their workstations and also finds convinced solutions. So basically, empowerment involves passing decision-making, authority and responsibility from the superior to subordinates.

In big international companies empowerment means encouraging and rewarding to use their creative abilities, and also allows sharing information and knowledge enabling them to understand the importance of the organizational performance in which return influences outcomes. The purpose of empowerment is to guarantee valuable decision-making that not only takes place by the right employees but also groups and individuals. Ford and Fottler then discuss the implementation of empowerment strategies is the toughest experiment managers could possibly face.

That is why they decide to use a grid, for better understanding, in which there is both job content (the tasks and procedures necessary to carry out a particular task) and job context (the overall organization mission, goal). On the x-axis the decision-making authority over job content increases and on the y-axis authority and involvement decisions over job context escalates. Then they have identified five points on the grid for the varying tactic for empowerment to managers.

The first point, known as ‘No Discretion’, this represents the customary assembly-line type of routine jobs where there is literally no decision-making as the job is designed and monitored by some other individual. The second point ‘Task Setting’ epitomizes a great deal of decision responsibility for job content and little for context as mangers hope to find new ways in making jobs better. The third point being ‘Participatory Empowerment’ symbolizes an area where there is equal amount of both job content as well as job context, such groups are probably quandary recognition, substitute hunt and advocating the best substitute.

The fourth point acknowledged as ‘Mission Defining’ is representing the most unusual circumstances and one seldom conferred in empowerment. Here empowered employees decide on job context but not on content. The last point is ‘Self-Management’ signifies that zone in which total decision-making authority is given to subordinates this changes the total atmosphere, as it is the greatest appearance of faith. For any management to approve of any strategies it must first determine its position in the grid as the grid austerely illustrates the stages of empowerment.

There are the two different viewpoints of the authors. I think that Simon presents his views very systemically at first her discusses the definition of authority, then continuing to influences and the sanctions that affect the authority status of an individual. However, Ford and Fottler emphasized on the grid more stating that this is the best and the most easily understood strategy that can be used in deciding how authority can be given to employees and subordinates making relationships effective. Despite these facts, I have noticed that both the authors say that influence can benefit or harm the decision-making process and that there are some participants that are supposedly born leaders. Another fact is that Ford and Fottler do not concentrate on coordination like Simon did.

In conclusion, perhaps the greatest challenge for mangers is to critically assess themselves and their organizations and their employees. And as management becomes more affluent with the idea of shared decision-making, subordinates are now trained to perform decisions till a certain degree of empowerment. This however may not work in all situations for all managers or all employees.

Questions are then asked, are managers willing to give up decision-making authority or are they skeptical about their subordinates? Also, whether employees are ready to throw in the empowerment programs or are they dispassionate to the organization as a whole and their own jobs? While these questions still remain unanswered, the steps towards discovering the results can be taken.