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Managing With Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations 1st Edition

4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0875844404
ISBN-10: 0875844405
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jeffrey Pfeffer is Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. He is the author or co-author of 11 books, and a monthly column in Business 2.0.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1st edition (November 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875844405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875844404
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Power is a rare coin: glittering, valuable, and hard to swallow. For many people power is unsavory, disgusting, an abrogation of all that our democratic ideals hold dear. Power corrupts, says the axiom, and our lives, our goals, our organizations prosper in joy and harmony only when it has not tainted the very air we breathe.
Stop kidding yourself. Power - politics, influence, authority wielded decisively - is what makes companies work, what allows organizations to function productively and effectively. And as Jeffrey Pfeffer argues in Managing with Power, power is not an evil miasma to be thwarted, but a tool to be seized and wielded. By recognizing the combination of techniques, strategies, tactics, and dynamics that underlie power, managers can use it successfully to accomplish and achieve.
Pfeffer's take on power therefore sidesteps classic moral quandaries regarding good and evil, means and ends. The world's problems are questions not of morals but of action - or rather, of inaction and passivity. Using Managing with Power, the reader can learn to diagnose the sources of power: how communication and allies create influence, why formal authority matters, and when location matters more. The reader can then study how power may be used effectively and how it may be lost in turn, by following Pfeffer as he analyzes the actions of corporate and political leaders (Lyndon Johnson, Henry Ford II, Roger Smith, et al.). His subjects are measured by their results and their actions; morality is rarely relevant.
Machiavelli would have loved this book, which may put it beyond the pale for many readers. Others attracted by the topic may be dissuaded by the scientific tone and language.
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Format: Paperback
Jeffrey Pfeffer is Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, California. Previously he has been at the University of Illinois, the University of California at Berkeley, and as a Visiting Professor at the Harvard Business School. He has written several business- and management-related books.
This book consists of four parts, with each part consisting of 3-to-6 chapters. Pfeffer starts with a definition of power: "... the potential ability to influence behavior, to change the course of events, to overcome resistance, and to get people to do things that they would not otherwise do." This power is utilized and realized through politics and influence. Based on above definition the book discusses the details to the implementation process which consists of seven steps:
1. Decide on your goals.
2. Diagnose who is important in getting your goals accomplished.
3. Have a sense of the game being played, the players, and what their positions are.
4. Ascertain the power based of the other players, as well as your own potential and actual sources of power.
5. Determine your relative strength, along with the strength of other players.
6. Diagnose what is going to happen in an organization, as well as preparing yourself to take action.
7. Consider the various strategies or tactics that are available to you, as well as those used by others.
I believe it is important to keep these steps in mind since the book does not follow the sequence of these steps. The other chapters in Part I - Power in Organizations provide help both in diagnosing the extent to which situations are going to involve the use of power and in figuring out who the political actors are and what their points are likely to be.
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Comment 34 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
It is probably the gap between expectations and the actual content of the book that made me write this review. The table of content is leaving you salivating - all the right things seems to be here, delivered in scientific-but-entertaining way.
Unfortunately the content is different. The author remarks in introduction, that he just felt it is time to write something (it is not direct quotation, of course), and you can tell this after a few initial chapters.

Ok, to make a long story short:
1. There is no single, well thought-out theory of power and leadership behind this book. What you can see instead, is a magpie approach, which turns the book into a hodge-podge of loosely-connected ideas, and many of these directly contradict each other. Also, as a quick look at the bibliography will make clear, many of these ideas were not state-of-the-art even at the date of the publication of Mr. Pfeffer's book.
2. Another distracting feature is author's propensity to enliven the narrative with anecdotes taken mainly from 3 biography books (on Johnson, Kissinger and Moses). One can not help by wonder if this reflects precious few reading opportunities the author has had lately.
3. Author uses terms (even the most fundamental - like authority, power, influence, resource) loosely, and frequently either without defining them or doing this sloppily. While seemingly minor, this fault leads to deficiency in his analysis. For example, Mr. Pfeffer fails to distinguish between formal authority and informal power.

Ok, you probably got an idea. But mind you, the book has its virtues. The ideas about power of functions (with heart-gladdening lampooning of Finance) are quite original.
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