Abstract

This thesis develops the Effects of Power Model to explain why some power users come to behave in anti-social ways and what can be done about it. The model shares an analytical focus on the effect of the exercise of power on the power user with the Metamorphic Model of Power (Kipnis, 1976), but overcomes limitations in the Metamorphic Model by using the integrating framework of Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1986). This theory guided the identification of the Effects of Power Model’s main variables and their relationships, and provides a powerful framework for designing normative applications based on those variables and relationships.

The Effects of Power Model describes a self-regulatory process which begins with a consideration by the power user of whether and what type of power or influence tactic he or she should use. To make the decision, the power user considers both internal standards and experiences (either vicariously gained or directly). Having acted, the power user then evaluates his or her action against both feedback and internal standards. If evaluation indicates that the action was contrary to either internal standards and/or to expected outcomes, there are two possible reactions. One is to feel bad and to plan to choose another course of action in future. The other is to rationalise the action through the use of disengagement mechanisms. The latter enables the power user to excuse his or her action and maintain a commitment to the action in the future. Over time, repeated use of disengagement mechanisms to excuse behaviour leads to a change in internal standards and to a rising commitment to the behaviour.

The model’s descriptive power is tested using a two-stage laboratory experiment with between subject manipulations and random allocation of subjects. A range of analytical frameworks are used to test the data including correlation, regression and Chi square analysis. Results strongly support the model. The model’s prescriptive power is also considered by developing a program to enhance pro-social behaviour among power users, particularly professionals. Examples are identified that support key propositions of the model, relating to how the circumstances of professionals may influence their anti-social behaviour and how changes in circumstances could promote pro-social behaviour.


(Miriam Verbeek (1997) The effects of power on its users: Thesis Submitted in Fulfilment of the Requirement for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, AGSM UNSW)