After reading Levi’s chapter on power in sport, I attempted to conduct a little research regarding the necessity of clearly defined power within the construction of a social organization. The majority of the material that I found focused on the relationship between level and amount of constructed social power, and its connections to information-processing techniques and behavior. Resulting in findings falling in support of a stabilized organization, most research supports the idea that those occupying higher levels on the social-power hierarchy are consequently able to process and perform at a faster and more effective rate. However, Daniel Sligte, Carsten Dreu, and Bernard Nijstad, in their article: “Power, stability of power, and creativity”, presented an opposite perspective.
This particular study attempted to draw a correlation between perceived level of stability in the power structure of an organization, and the level or amount of creative thinking present among the members. “Power refers to the ability to influence others, and derives from a variety of power bases, such as someone’s position in the hierarchy within a group or organization, or the possession of valuable resources, such as knowledge and expertise’ (Sligte et al., 2011). Basically, the conclusions drawn in this study supported the idea that the less organization or stability in an organizational power structure, the more likely members occupying a lower rung on the hierarchy are to think creatively, present openly new goals and ideas, as well as attempt to move up the ranks. To me, such findings can be interpreted one of two ways: one, the less stable a governing body, or dominating social group, the more likely a lower-ranking group is to assume power; and two, the best environment to work in (best being defined as opportunities to advance, gain more power) is one of chaos and lack of any structural integrity.
The conflict within these interpretations seems counter-intuitive to me, in regards to working in today’s business world. Much of what we have learned with regard to group formation and dynamics has to do with setting clearly defined roles, expectations, and culture in order to most effectively perform. I do not understand why a situation must be unstable and chaotic in order for a group member to think creatively and desire to move up – the findings in this study seem to counteract the fundamental necessities of social structure within a team or organization. I undoubtedly need to look into the subject further to truly draw a conclusion, however, perhaps aligning this particular study with a specific group or population – such as during a social uprising or political coup (for which the above makes the most sense), and not generalizing it to all social organizations would have lent more credibility to the author’s findings.
Sligte, D. J., de Dreu, C. W., & Nijstad, B. A. (2011). Power, stability of power, and creativity. Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(5), 891-897. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.03.009