Relationships are seldom equal. In fact, social interactions involve most of the times power asymmetric relationships. Especially in organizations people are daily faced with situations where they are either in a powerful or in a powerless position compared to others. Power stems from various sources and takes several forms. For instance, people are powerful when they can administer punishments or rewards, when they are in a hierarchically higher position than others, when they have knowledge and expertise, when they are admired and respected, and when they have alternative options which enable them to make choices. Importantly, power determines the way people interact with each other and subsequently, the way they engage in conflicts and conflict resolution. Power-holders are best able to asymmetrically enforce their will and therefore, they have the capability to determine the process and the outcome of a conflict. In this chapter, I present the major sources of power and the main differences between them. Consequently, I elaborate on the impact of power on conflict management based on the negotiation literature. I conclude by touching on the necessity to distinguish between two contradictory faces of power: power as opportunity and power as responsibility.
- power as opportunity vs. responsibility
- conflict management