Short Essay on McClelland’s Concept of Power

According to McClelland the power hungry in-human beings reflect the negative feeling about power. According to McClelland power is associated with heavy drinking, gambling, having more aggressive impulses.

People with this personalized power concern are more apt to speed, have accidents and get into physical fight. If possessed by political office holder especially in the sphere of international relations, the consequences would be ominous.

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The other type of power identified by McClelland is social power. It is characterized by a concern for group goals, for finding those goals ‘that will move people, for helping the group to formulate them, for taking initiative in providing the members of the group with some means of achieving these goals, and for giving them the feeling of strength and competence which they need to work hard for such goals.

McClelland’s position on the importance of power is in direct opposition to the humanistic position which emphasizes the importance of democratic values and participative decision-making.

There is also recent empirical evidence that would counter McClelland’s view. According to a research study those with a high need for power may suppress the flow of information that contradicts their preferred course of action and thus have a negative impact on effective managerial decision-making process.

Thus the different approaches to power expressed different views about how power is used and what type of power is used. In French and Roman terms the use of expert and referent power in organisations may be more effective than traditionally used legitimate and coercive power.

In McClelland’s view, social power may be of greater use to the organisation than the traditionally used personal power. However, it can be stated that the use of the various types of power depends on the situation. Thus the contingency models of power seem to be a healthy development in the analysis of and normative use of power in organisation.

Power is ability to influence other’s behaviour. In organisational terms power is the ability to use the human and material resources to accomplish the goals of organisation. Power is an absolute necessity to organisation. Without it chaos will result. Power is an important basis for authority, accountability and responsibility. Power is viewed as an evil as well as natural.

The attitude to view power as an evil has led to a tendency to obscure power. However, recently power is viewed as neither good nor evil. Rather, power is natural and necessary. Power is derived from different bases. Among these bases the non-formal bases influence the organisational effectiveness more favourably than the formal bases.

Within the past few years there has been an increased interest in the study of power. There are two reasons for this. First, modern organisation theory is multimentional power. Second, increased appreciation of importance of power has caused increased attention to it regardless of the ideological and methodological problems.