Power

On the folly of principals' power: Managerial psychology as a cause of bad incentives

On the folly of principals' power: Managerial psychology as a cause of bad incentives
Research in Organizational Behavior, 31, 25-41

Magee, Joe C., Gavin Kilduff, & Chip Heath.
01/01/2011

Faulty and dysfunctional incentive systems have long interested, and frustrated, managers and organizational scholars alike. In this analysis, we pick up where Kerr (1975) left off and advance an explanation for why bad incentive systems are so prevalent in organizations. We propose that one contributing factor lies in the psychology of people who occupy managerial roles. Although designing effective incentive systems is a challenge wrought with perils for anyone, we believe the psychological consequences and correlates of higher rank within organizations make the challenge more severe for managers. Patterns of promotion and hiring typically yield managers that are more competent than their employees, and ascending to management positions increases individuals' workload and power. In turn, these factors make managers more egocentrically anchored and cognitively abstract, while also reducing their available cognitive capacity for any given task, all of which we argue limits their ability to design effective incentives for employees. Thus, ironically, those with the power to design incentives may be those least able to effectively do so. We discuss four specific types of bad incentive systems that can arise from these psychological tendencies in managers: those that over-emphasize compensation, generate weak motivation, offer perverse motivation, or are misaligned with organizational culture.

A la santé de l'oncle Sam: regards croisés sur les systémes de santé; américain et français (To Uncle Sam's Health: Cross perspectives on the American and French Health Systems)

A la santé de l'oncle Sam: regards croisés sur les systémes de santé; américain et français (To Uncle Sam's Health: Cross perspectives on the American and French Health Systems)
Paris, Jacob-Duvernet

Tabuteau, D., Rodwin, V.G.
08/01/2010

Victor Rodwin, professor of health policy and management at NYU Wagner, and his colleague Didier Tabuteau, counselor of state and professor of health policy at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques and the University of Paris Descartes, have published a new book (published by Editions Jacob Duvernet) in which they challenge the conventional wisdom that the French health care system is a government-managed, public and collective enterprise and the American system a private, market-oriented and individualist system. Based on six months of debates in Paris while Professor Rodwin held the Fulbright-Toqueville Chair (spring semester, 2010), this book compares public health, health insurance, the power of physicians, health care reform, and the silent revolution that is transforming health care organization in both France and the United States.

Motivating people

Motivating people
In L. R. Burns, E. Bradley & B. Weiner (eds.), Health care management: A text in organization behavior and theory. New York: Delmar, 6th edition, 2010.

D’Aunno, T. & Gilmartin, M. J.
05/20/2010

Power Differences in the Construal of a Crisis: The Immediate Aftermath of September 11, 2001

Power Differences in the Construal of a Crisis: The Immediate Aftermath of September 11, 2001
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(3), 354-370.

Magee, J.C., Milliken, F.J. & Lurie, A.R.
03/01/2010

In this research, we examine the relationship between power and three characteristics of construal-abstraction, valence, and certainty-in individuals' verbatim reactions to the events of September 11, 2001 and during the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks. We conceptualize power as a form of social distance and find that position power (but not expert power) was positively associated with the use of language that was more abstract (vs. concrete), positive (vs. negative), and certain (vs. uncertain). These effects persist after controlling for temporal distance, geographic distance, and impression management motivation. Our results support central and corollary predictions of Construal Level Theory (Liberman, Trope, & Stephan, 2007; Trope & Liberman, 2003) in a high-consequence, real-world context, and our method provides a template for future research in this area outside of the laboratory.

A world without prisons: Improving prisoners' lives and transforming the justice system

A world without prisons: Improving prisoners' lives and transforming the justice system
Justice Now Teaching Case. The Electronic Hallway and Research Center for Leadership in Action, 2004. Available from https://hallway.org.

Foldy, E. G. & Walters, J.
01/01/2010

Cassandra Shaylor and Cynthia Chandler founded Justice Now in 2000. They push hard for prison abolition while advocating for better health care and conditions for prisoners in California's two largest women's prisons. They prioritize the leadership of prisoners, and offer interns the opportunity to work and meet with women inside prisons to learn firsthand about prisoners' human struggles as well as the policy implications of state sponsored violence. Their strategies include the following:

  • Conduct Legal Visits Inside Prisons to Expose and Challenge Human Rights Abuses: Shaylor, Chandler and the Justice Now interns spend as much time as possible inside prisons to uncover human rights abuses and organize to challenge them. They build relationships with women inside and become the eyes and ears to the outside.
  • Build Leadership Among Prisoners: Justice Now engages people in prison in the organization's work at every level. They also assist women who are already working as activists within the prisons.
  • Push the Prison Abolition Frontier: While Justice Now helps to improve health care and other conditions, they oppose prison reformation efforts. Instead they push for prison abolition.
  • Spread a Vision of a World Without Prisons: Through plays, music, oral histories and toolkits, the organization helps envision and promote a new approach to building lives, not locking people away.

In this leadership story Shaylor and Chandler, along with Justice Now interns and activists, describe their experiences in this case example.

Professed impressions: What people say about others affects onlookers' perceptions of speakers' power and warmth

Professed impressions: What people say about others affects onlookers' perceptions of speakers' power and warmth
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 152-158

Ames, Daniel R., Emily C. Bianchi, Joe C. Magee.
01/01/2010

During a conversation, it is common for a speaker to describe a third-party that the listener does not know. These professed impressions not only shape the listener's view of the third-party but also affect judgments of the speaker herself. We propose a previously unstudied consequence of professed impressions: judgments of the speaker's power. In two studies, we find that listeners ascribe more power to speakers who profess impressions focusing on a third-party's conscientiousness, compared to those focusing on agreeableness. We also replicate previous research showing that speakers saying positive things about third parties are seen as more agreeable than speakers saying negative things. In the second study, we demonstrate that conscientiousness-power effects are mediated by inferences about speakers' task concerns and positivity-agreeableness effects are mediated by inferences about speakers' other-enhancing concerns. Finally, we show that judgments of speaker status parallel judgments of agreeableness rather than of power, suggesting that perceivers use different processes to make inferences about status and power. These findings have implications for the literatures on person perception, power, and status.

A critical Review of Race and Ethnicity in the Leadership Literature: Surfacing Context, Power and the Collective Dimensions of Leadership.

A critical Review of Race and Ethnicity in the Leadership Literature: Surfacing Context, Power and the Collective Dimensions of Leadership.
The Leadership Quarterly, 20  

Ospina, S. and E. G. Foldy
01/01/2009


Leadership studies focusing on race–ethnicity provide particularly rich contexts to illuminate the human condition as it pertains to leadership. Yet insights about the leadership experience of people of color from context-rich research within education, communications and black studies remain marginal in the field. Our framework integrates these, categorizing reviewed studies according to the effects of race–ethnicity on perceptions of leadership, the effects of race–ethnicity on leadership enactments, and actors' approach to the social reality of race–ethnicity. The review reveals a gradual convergence of theories of leadership and theories of race–ethnicity as their relational dimensions are increasingly emphasized. A shift in the conceptualization of race–ethnicity in relation to leadership is reported, from a constraint to a personal resource to a simultaneous consideration of its constraining and liberating capacity. Concurrent shifts in the treatment of context, power, agency versus structure and causality are also explored, as are fertile areas for future research.

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