Organizational Context and Upward Influence: An Experimental Study of the Use of Power Tactics

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This study examines the effects of organizational context on subordinates' use of power tactics in upward influence attempts. A simulation design similar to that used by Staw and Ross (1980) was employed. Subjects were randomly assigned one of two forms of an organizational scenario. The following organizational characteristics were described as either all positive or all negative in the scenarios: (1) managerial competence, (2) supervisory support, (3) fairness in reward, and (4) rule enforcement. Between-group comparisons show that (a) respondents to the positive scenario were more likely to choose rational power tactics, and (b) respondents to the negative scenario were more likely to choose political power tactics (ingratiation, threat, and blocking). These results reinforce the utility of considering organizational context as a potential source of variation in individual responses. Theoretical, research, and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-355
Number of pages19
JournalGroup & Organization Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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