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Power gets more than one definitions in organisation, so what is power many scientists gave many explanations. Max Webber (1922) offered a definition about power, he said ‘the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance’, his opinion about power was focus on the capacity of influence of one person’s behaviour to another person. Let’s see another definition of power, ‘Power we mean an individual’s capacity to influence decisions’ (Robbins 1990, P. 252), he indicated power as a cone, and the power for individuals depends on the different vertical levels and how far from the centre in the cone, the one closer to the power core, the one get more influence to affect decisions. Understanding of power can lead us to see control and resistance. Hatch and Cunliffe (2006, P. 251) gave his thinking of the relationship between power, control and conflict, ‘conflict is a manifestation of the continuous struggle over control that power relations imply’. Control is enforced and encouraged by individuals, groups or organisations, and amount of conformity is needed in organisations. ‘Resistance has been classically understood as a foundation cause of conflict that is undesirable and detrimental to organisational health’ (Waddell & Sohal 1998, P. 543). I will discuss two theoretical perspectives, modernist and postmodernist theories of power, control and resistance in organisations, and I will present each perspective’s understanding of power, control and resistance in organisations and how those contribute to different ideas about organisational structure and organisational culture.

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Modern perspective

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Organisations use multiple perspectives, because different perspectives can make organisations in different theorizing ways. Modern perspective can be defined by Hatch and Cunliffe (2006, P.15), they wrote ‘to take a modernist perspective, you must commit to limiting what you count as knowledge to what you can know through your fives senses’. Clegg & Kornberger (2003, P.2) gave idea about modern, ‘It does so through adherence to the canons of positivism empiricism, and science’.


In modern concept of power, modernists tried to find way to keep authority and power within organisations, because authority was one of resources of power. Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) indicated modernist believed that the theory about internal distribution of organisation power defined organisation as political arenas. Most of the modernists didn’t agree politics from organisations who also in business because most politics didn’t present authority and rationality. Since observational studies of organisational decision making gave the evidence for the actions of politics, the theories of power and politics also could be found in modernist organisation theory (Hatch & Cunliffe 2006). Later Herbert Simon and James March and other theorists emphasized that ‘organisational decision making is rational only under highly restrictive conditions'(Hatch & Cunliffe 2006, P. 253). In 1970s and 1980s power was cleared considered by two modernist theories, they were strategy contingencies and resource dependence theory. Developing and using strategies of power within organisations were organised by Hatch and Cunliffe (2006), they wrote that power was developed by four ways, creating dependence in others and coping with uncertainty on behalf of others, developing personal network and augmenting expertise; using power to control information, agendas, decision-making criteria, alliances and also using external experts.


Most early modernist supporters agreed an American sociologist’s opinion; the authoritative use of control could create resistance, so managerial control was practiced from monitoring the worker’s behaviour through the market, structure and organisational culture (Hatch & Cunliffe 2006). There are three modernist control theories in organisations introduced by Hatch and Cunliffe 2006), they are cybernetic, agency and markets, hierarchies and clans. Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) gave the purpose and processes of control for those three models. The cybernetic model’s purpose is to differentiate between individual and organizational performance; it’s also about evaluating, and giving feedback and rewarding for performance. There are 4 processing steps of control, 1.setting goals in organisations is treated as strategic plan 2.Setting standards 3.monitoring behaviours 4.Correcting wrong tasks. Any negative results from performance would be used for feedback and punishment, but positive results would be rewarded (Hatch & Cunliff 2006). The agency model’s theory’s purpose of control is about managers consider owners’ interests and how to make the best interests of owners. The steps of control process are binding contracts between owners and managers, ensuring managers’ behaviour meet the contract and their owners’ interests and the last step is rewarding agents (Hatch & Cunliff 2006). Managers are main control medium for organisations. Market, bureaucracy or clan control’s purpose of control is about collaboration among individuals. Market control concentrates on economic performance, such as prices or profits, it’s more like an economic competition and a free market can provide more opportunities and a reasonable evaluating efficiency; bureaucracy is more based on rules and monitoring behaviours to implement control, and it also depends on hierarchy of authority (Hatch & Cunliff 2006); ‘it is difficult to assess results, then rational means of control by market or bureaucratic mechanisms will fail’ (Hatch & Cunliff 2006, P.264), so the last one clan comes, it can be seen like symbolic control, which means members’ behaviours are based on cultural values, norms and social systems.


According to Waddell & Sohal (1998, P. 544), the early human resource theorists gave that ‘resistance was in a negative light by perceiving it as a form of conflict that was indicative of a breakdown in the normal and healthy interactions that can exist between individuals and groups’, as organisational theory developed, resistance influences the organisation toward greater stability, resistance can balance the pressure in environments within organisations.

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Kylie Garcia

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