ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (6): 1070-1078.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.01070

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Power in Organization: Concepts, Theories and Effects

DUAN Jinyun1; LU Zhiwei1; SHEN Yanhan2   

  1. (1 Department of Psychology, Soochow University; Key Research Institute of Education Ministry-Center for Chinese Urbanization Studies, Soochow University, Suzhou 215123, China) (2 College of Education and Human Development; George Mason University, Fairfax 22030, US)
  • Received:2014-10-15 Online:2015-06-25 Published:2015-06-25
  • Contact: DUAN Jinyun, E-mail:


Power in organization is defined as the capacity to achieve the specific goals by using resources and it exists in the human relationship. Power in organization can be classified as positional power and personal power, which have different impacts on organization. Although both power and status are basic elements of organization, they are different constructs and have different effects. Power may have negative, neutral and positive effects on organization, which can be explained by three theories. To analysis why power can have different effects, there are five reasons, which include 1) organization system, 2) organizational culture, 3) instability within organization hierarchy, 4) intergroup competition, and 5) power-related motives. Further research on power in organization can be improved in the following aspects, including 1) considering the effect of belongingness on power, 2) considering how accountability moderates power effects, 3) considering the cross-relationship effects of power in the organization.

Key words: power, status, organizational situation, theory of power, effect of power