.In our essay, we study the different critical perspectives of power as seen through the lens of researchers. We structure our essay thus: in the first section, we briefly review the interpretation and import of power through the lens of three different sets of studies. We try and identify points of convergence and divergence of perspectives. …
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The origins of power can be understood from medieval businesses where there were smaller organizations and fewer employees in each of them. Typically, an individual learnt a trade and plied his craft, selling his services to others and accumulating capital; in the course of his journey occasionally, he had opportunities to expand and launch his own enterprise. A mixture of hard work and serendipity sometimes enabled such journeymen to become masters. In effect, they became owners or owner-managers and employed people to work for their business enterprise. In essence, we find that an individual, in his early days as an apprentice bows to a power center, who for all practical purposes is his master or supervisor; later on there is an opportunity to be the authority or one who now wields power himself. We now trace different viewpoints as observed through the lens of three different theorists
Weber (1978) had a clear construct of power. According to him, power flowed through a bureaucratic setup where people and processes were clearly defined. People were endowed with certain powers to approve or reject petitions and they exercised it as per the written code of conduct. Effectively, no one could flout the rigor and the organizational hierarchy to get work done. Power being legitimized through the form of organizational structures, there were no methods or actions that could challenge it. Perhaps, we can visualize it as a one-way street, where everything was clearly spelt out and there was no possibility of dialogue or dissent. Viewed from another angle, power was domination and any overt or covert resistance was construed as a form of insubordination and sanctions were imposed. Bachrach & Baratz (1963, 1970) had a different interpretation. We take this as the second dimension of power. They posited that power was associated with decisions and non-decisions. Power was construed as a process where the issues or problems were excluded from decision-making. Subordinates are not allowed to participate in the decision-making process through various stratagems adopted by people in higher positions of authority. The use of these channels has been described as non-decisions. In scenarios such as these, the powerful actors are able to determine outcomes from behind the scenes. A critical perspective would perhaps hint at this construction as a subtle, non-offensive use of power. Yet, it clearly denotes that there are invisible barriers. On one side, there are people who can take decisions; on the other side, there are subordinates or people who may be in conflict but forced to accept the decisions of the top management team. The third dimension was put forth by Lukes (1974) who argued that power could not be interpreted in the light of conflicts alone. He opined that power could be used to quell dissent and conflicting viewpoints by shaping the perceptions and cognitions of people. This could be done in a subtle manner so that people accept
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