Upward power tendencies in a hierarchy: Power Distance Theory versus bureaucratic rule

Upward power tendencies in a hierarchy: Power Distance Theory versus bureaucratic rule Two contrasting notions concerning upward power tendencies within hierarchically structured groups are investigated. Power Distance Theory assumes that people have a desire for power that results in a tendency to reduce the power distance towards a more powerful other, and this tendency is assumed to be stronger the smaller the power distance. The bureaucratic rule implies that a vacant position may only be taken over by someone from the level immediately below the vacant position. In Experiment 1, power distance from the top position of a hierarchy was manipulated by assigning 120 subjects to a higher or a lower position in a power hierarchy. Results showed that only the motivation derived from the bureaucratic rule (i.e. entitlement) mediated the relationship between power distance and upward tendencies. In Experiment 2, a more pertinent test of the two theoretical notions was performed by assigning 139 subjects to one of three positions. The main results were consistent with the bureaucratic rule: (1) subjects immediately below the top position showed a stronger upward tendency towards this position than subjects in the two lower positions, whereas no differences were found between subjects in these two lower positions; (2) again only entitlement mediated the relationship between power distance and upward tendencies. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png European Journal of Social Psychology Wiley

Upward power tendencies in a hierarchy: Power Distance Theory versus bureaucratic rule

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1993 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
ISSN
0046-2772
eISSN
1099-0992
DOI
10.1002/ejsp.2420230303
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Two contrasting notions concerning upward power tendencies within hierarchically structured groups are investigated. Power Distance Theory assumes that people have a desire for power that results in a tendency to reduce the power distance towards a more powerful other, and this tendency is assumed to be stronger the smaller the power distance. The bureaucratic rule implies that a vacant position may only be taken over by someone from the level immediately below the vacant position. In Experiment 1, power distance from the top position of a hierarchy was manipulated by assigning 120 subjects to a higher or a lower position in a power hierarchy. Results showed that only the motivation derived from the bureaucratic rule (i.e. entitlement) mediated the relationship between power distance and upward tendencies. In Experiment 2, a more pertinent test of the two theoretical notions was performed by assigning 139 subjects to one of three positions. The main results were consistent with the bureaucratic rule: (1) subjects immediately below the top position showed a stronger upward tendency towards this position than subjects in the two lower positions, whereas no differences were found between subjects in these two lower positions; (2) again only entitlement mediated the relationship between power distance and upward tendencies.

Journal

European Journal of Social PsychologyWiley

Published: May 1, 1993

References

  • Cognitions and behaviour in a hierarchy: Mulder's power theory revisited
    Bruins, Bruins; Wilke, Wilke
  • Structural and nonstructural aspects of power distance reduction tendencies
    Ng, Ng

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