Power may be seen as ‘the capacity that A has to influence the behavior of B, so that B acts in accordance to A’s wishes’ (Bass and Stogdill, as cited by Robbins et al 2004, p.394). In Nepean Hospital this power may be given to the Clinical Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) and allows the NUM to influence the behavior of the nurses, wardspersons, and in many respects the doctors who work for the organisation. One of the most fundamental factors of power is that of dependency. In the example of person A and B, this refers to B’s relationship to A when A possesses something that B requires (Bass and Stogdill 20004, p. 394). In this case, persons (employees) may be dependant on the income, which is exchanged for hours at work, or promotion, as being more or less likely, based on their ability to follow the NUM’s decisions.
Authority is primarily associated with legitimate power, such as a manager using his or her power to direct employees. Therefore authority still refers to a person having influence over others, but that this influence is legitimate; where as power in itself may be used by anyone who is capable of influencing others.
Influence is neither power or authority, but a method of developing such power or authority. Through influence, power is achieved. For example, a person who does not have the authority to influence power over another employee may find they are capable of influencing another person by offering something that the other person is dependent on.
Politics may be described as power in action, or a means of achieving one’s goal through influence and power. Through political behavior people are able to ‘influence or attempt to influence the distribution of advantages and disadvantages within the organisation’ (Farrell and Petersen 1982, p.405). This is often done without authority.