Interpersonal Power: A Review, Critique, and Research Agenda

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104320559 (Orcid); 2-s2.0-84918787305 (eid)


Power is a fundamental force in social relationships and is pervasive throughout various types of interactions. Although research has shown that the possession of power can change the power holder, the full extent of power’s consequences on individuals’ decision-making capabilities and social interactions within organizations is not fully understood. The goal of this paper is to review, synthesize, and critique the literature on power with a focus on its organizational and managerial implications. Specifically, we propose a definition of power that takes into account its three defining characteristics—having the discretion and means to enforce one’s will—and summarize the extant literature on how power influences individuals’ thoughts, emotions, and actions both in terms of prosocial and antisocial outcomes. In addition, we highlight important moderators of power and describe ways in which it can be studied in a more rigorous manner by examining methodological issues and pitfalls with regard to its measurement and manipulation. We also provide future research directions to motivate and guide the study of power by management scholars. Our desire is to present a thorough and parsimonious account of power’s influence on individuals within an organizational context, as well as provide a foundation that scholars can build upon as they continue to make consequential contributions to the study of power.



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