Learning Team Deliverables

Organizational culture consists of different traditional ways, values, and certain beliefs when setting out the rules for making a decision, power, and formation of a company. The organizational culture focuses more on leadership values. Culture determines the way we as people handle business and also for one’s own success. By having a structured organizational culture, it allows the employees to feel that if they do what is right, they will be rewarded for their actions. The following paragraphs will discuss the impact of leadership and the mores of senior management and how they affect both the culture and the application of power. We as a group have chosen a law firm as the “model” company.

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Coercive Power

Coercive power is a form of manipulation used on employees to bring about a sense of fear. Employees conform to coercive powers for fear of retaliation. Coercive power in the long run can lead to character flaws amongst employees. Law firms that use coercive powers are usually only concerned with short term goals. Coercion used long term can cause dissatisfied partners’ performance to drop. Partners may eventually end up leaving the organization because they feel nothing good is going to happen for them. For instance, peer pressure at a law partnership could be a form of coercion to gain a unanimous decision regarding financial decisions. Long term affect could lead to the partnership being resolved due to one of the partners’ dissatisfaction in the ways things are going.

Reward Power
Law Partners who conform to the rules to receive positive benefits for their efforts enjoy reward power. Law Partners enjoy reward power since it allows them to control negative repercussions by doing well. Partnerships use reward power to help encourage partners to perform high and meet the firm’s goal. For example, bonuses given at the end of each year could motivate all partners to do well. Reward powers usually benefits all parties involved.

Legitimate Power

The most common access to one or more of the power bases is legitimate power. “Legitimate power represents the formal authority to control and use organizational resources based on structural position in the organization.” (Stephen P. Robbins, Timothy A. Judge, 2011) In a law firm, that structure is driven by the board of directors, then to the partners. Those that are lawyers are submissive to the partners in hopes to become one someday themselves. We associate power with hierarchy, so employees infer leaders as powerful and comply when an executive order is placed. Although, legitimate power is the most recognized, having expert power is just as powerful.

Expert Power

In any organization, most of the time employees are easily replaced. If one provides the same service or acting task in a like manner as their counterpart, then replacing them is not that difficult. However, having a niche that is not easily replaced provides expert power. Expert power is the ability to provide an expertise and the respect and admiration of others. In a law firm, the knowledge of being able to defend or represent the firm in a way that is beyond the ability of others creates an expert power that will buy you life in the firm. Since law firms are all about winning their cases, the more one brings to the table, the better the opportunity of becoming partner.

Referent power

Referent power in any organization allows an individual to be considered for hire or a current employee to receive warranted or unwarranted compensation for their contribution to the entity. Referent power in a Law Partnership can assist in an employee becoming Partner of the firm. Rewards incurred from this power are influenced by interactions and the ability to relate to others. This power has been stated to hold more weight due to its intimacy. It has been directly correlated with positive performance, satisfied employees and the organization knowingly aware of an employee’s commitment and contribution to the organization. The use of the five power bases in a Law Partnership is commonplace.

However, in order for the firm to be successful, the board of directors and partners must possess strong leadership skills, and abide by an even stronger code of ethics when exerting their powers. Leaders of the partnership use their reward and legitimate authority to motivate others, encouraging growth, and further development of skills. Expertise is used to contribute to the growth of the firm, and not used as a ransom for personal gain. In addition, a strong sense of values in leaders of the firm will bring about an atmosphere of respect and trust, thus upper levels of the partnership use reference and personal influence within ethical confines. The use of all power bases for individual gain will not bring about sustainable growth and should be avoided. Furthermore, use of coercion power will create fear and distrust, and if the other powers are also being misused, partnership’s culture can be affected stress, lack of motivation, loss of staff, and corruption, and even betrayal.

Schermerhorn, J. R., Hunt, J. G., & Osborn, R. N. (2005). Organizational Behavior (9th ed.). Retrieved from

Stephen P. Robbins, Timothy A. Judge. 14th ed. (2011). University of Phoenix website. Retrieved May 1, 2014 from

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