Power & Politics and Technology

I. Definition of Power and Politics:

The concepts of power and politics are "entwined in the sense that politics – whether of the governmental kind , the economic kind or the interpersonal – involves the exercising of power." [1]

Power is the ability to get another to do something they would not ordinarily do if left to themselves and politics is defined as activities in which one engages in order to increase individual power. There are 2 types of power: formal and informal.

Formal power is defined as the power that originates from a person’s position in the organization. Under formal power there are subtypes: legitimate power, reward power, coercive power, and information power. Legitimate power is the power to control and use organization resources. Usually people in high position – CFOs, CEOs, etc – wield this power in the organization. Reward power is the power to give rewards. Coercive power is the power to give and withhold punishment. Information power is the power stemming from access to and control over information.

Informal power is defined as the power that originates from personal characteristics such as personality, skill, and capabilities. Under informal power there are three subtypes: expert power, referent power, and charismatic power. Expert power is power that comes from superior ability or expertise. Referent power is the power that stems from being liked, admired, and respected. Charismatic power is the intense form of personal power that comes directly from personality.[2]

"Power is the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his will despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests." - Max Weber [3]


II. How Power Influences Politics with the Help of Technology:

1. Government


Obama's Use of technology to help rise to powerful political position
[4] How did he use technology to increase his power bases?

Referent Power -

Before the 2008 campaign trail began, Barrack Obama was not a household name. With the power of social media he quickly gained referent power. His use of Youtube and Facebook quickly propelled his image. People began to like, admire and respect the presidential candidate. With out social media there is a strong possibility Obama would not of gained the respect he needed to win the election.

Charismatic Power -

This was probally Barrack Obamas strongest power. Obama is a great speaker, and his personality allows him to be more like an average joe, rather then a hard headed politician. Obama comes of as a warm, kind, strong and outgoing family man who loved sports.With Youtube and Facebook he was able to show off his powerful speaking abilities on a larger scale. These social media sites also allowed for people to watch or listen to his speeches at any time and as many times as they wanted.

How did Obama use technology to influence voters and followers?

Youtube -
This social media outpost was probally the most important part to the Obama campaign. In the past, nominees would use television ads to reach out and influence voters. Television ads are expensive and may not reach out to the targeted group. With Youtube people chose when watch and listen to his ads. Youtube also allowed for free advertisement for Obama. In the 2008 election year Obamas ads were watched 14.5 million hours. To pay for that much television ad time would of cost $47 million dollars.3 Campaign ads are extreamly influential in the eyes of the voter.

Twitter -
Obama joined twitter on March 7, 2007 and in September of 2011 he had 10 million followers.2 That is the third highest person on twitter. With Twitter people were able to stay connected with Obama. Obama could twit his influences and ideas to a large scale of people instantly.

Facebook// -
During his campaign Obama had around 1.3 million followers on his Facebook account. While McCain only had about 200,000.1 With so many followers he was able to raise money for his campaign and help keep him in the running for President. In June alone he was able to raise $53 million dollars. What was amazing about this accomplishment is that $31 million dollars was from donations of $200 or less.1 This could not of been done with out Facebook.

Sarah Palin

Her power bases in Technology

Referent Power -
Prior to the 2008 Presidential election, where she became a household name around the county, she was the first woman elected to be a governor of the State of Alaska, and she was also the youngest one. In the 2008 she was chosen by John McCain to run for Vice President for the republican party, She used the media to become well known in the country by making appearances in different TV shows such as Saturday Nigh life.

Charismatic Power -
In 2008, the Republican party lost the presidency to Barack Obama, but that did not stop Sarah Palin's name to be off the media, instead she became a media start, her face was in major newspapers, magazines and in the Television. Her charisma led Sarah Palin to go from a governor to a political commentator for the Fox News Channel, where she signed a long-term contract. It also led her to have her own TV show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," feature Sarah Palin, and her family, it portrayed her as a single mom dealing with every day ups and downs. Her charisma did not stop there but also led her to publish her own autography Going Rogue: An American Life. Her book became an instant hit leading her to authored a second book titled America by heart.

Impression management and strategies in the media world

The Media -
Her charisma and her power to be liked and admired, landed her as a star outside of politics. She used to media to portray her as a single mom struggling with her teenage daughter's pregnancy and all the media that it came with. She made appearances in highly viewed TV shows as SNL and Fox News, Her daughter was invited to dance for Dancing with the Stars, which it did not only bring fame to her daughter but to her as well. She has made of her name a household name that can be recognize everywhere in the country. She has led the media manage her image as a outspoken controversial politician. She has managed to use her negative image that has been portrayed by the media to lead her to fame. Her name has been in every newspaper and magazines. She landed a Tv Show with TLC with the highest rankings for that television network, she authored two instant hits books. Sarah Palin has turned her negative image of a controversial politician to a working single mom and an active positive politician helping women in the politics and also being a voice for the people.

Facebook and Twitter -
She has also manage her image and fame by the two major social media

2. Corporation

Steve Jobs


[5] Steve Paul Jobs was born on February 24 1955 in San Francisco, California. Steve spent his days growing up in the center world of computer technology known as Silicon-Valley. In most part of California, Steve was fascinated to see the engineers filling their garage with all the electronic devices. Steve decided to enroll at Reed College in Oregon which was a liberal arts college but stayed only for a semester and dropped out after that. Steve had interest in Eastern mysticism and started fasting and eating fruits only. At the age of nineteen he traveled to India in his search of enlightenment. In the year 2003, Steve was found diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which was curable but he denied to go through the surgery and thought his special diet can help cure it. Finally he agreed to the surgical process in 2004 but had his liver transplanted in the year 2009.

In 1969, Steve met a computer expert kid who was just five years old named Stephen Wozniak with interest in electronics. Steve Jobs was one of the extraordinary icons in bringing technology to a different perspective by introducing five things such as personal computer with Macintosh and Apple II, music in the form of iPod and iTunes, iPhone and Pixar and animation. Apple II was introduced in 1977, had a hardware features with colored graphics and had a abundant supply of compatible software. Macintosh in 1979 a cheaper priced computer with the concept as “a computer as easy to use as a toaster” was developed. Even though Apple was Steve’s life, he was kicked out and he started making animated movies with the help of computer graphic experts in 1985 and was known as Pixar used in the film “Toy Story” which was a big success in box office. Steve was brought back in Apple and then he introduced iMac a desktop computer and continued his journey with colored iMacs, iBook, and Apple’s consumer notebooks. In the early 2001 Steve introduced operating system named as Mac OS X. In the same year iPods was also introduced as a little music device as small as a cigarette box and later he advanced it as iPod mini, iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano.

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”-Steve Jobs

In January 2007, the biggest achievement of Steve Jobs was brought in front of the world as iPhone which is considered as the full version of Apple’s operating system, touch technology, access to web surf, iPod and the era of smart phones rose. In 2010, Steve launched iPad an Apple’s iOS-based tablet
which was appreciated by the people all over the world and helped everyone to glance technology in everyone’s finger tips.

However, Steve Jobs was just a middle-classed person with no college education instead he propounded his life by his talent and contribution than the other leading competitors. Eventually, the other rising corporations were also started evolving some of the new techniques but Steve Jobs contribution brought a new direction in making everyone’s life easy, exciting and friendly with the technology. Steve Jobs leadership had an upbeat regime in subscribing the best ideas outside the box which changed the world with most eminent discoveries than other companies.

Steve Jobs was one of the rare people who can use his personal charismatic power effectively to get the work done in conjunction with his legitimate power as CEO. He presented himself not only as autocratic mercurial manager, but also as a strong influential person. His co-worker, Andy Hertzfelt, a key member of the original Apple Macintosh development team during the 1980s, referred to his management style as “a confounding mélange of a charismatic rhetorical style, an indomitable will, and an eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand.” He was always straight forward while giving suggestions to people, even while dealing with other entrepreneurs. Jobs was unafraid to tell his employees their ideas or they themselves were "dumb", but concurrently, he was gentle towards them, particularly in meetings when presenting different ideas. For example, when giving feedback to Dean Kamen, inventor of Segway scooter, Jobs' response to him was similar to this: "I think it sucks, "he said,"Its shape is not innovative, it's not elegant, it doesn't feel anthropomorphic...There are design firms out there that could come up with things we've never thought of, things that would make you shit in your pants".

Jobs' charismatic power and ability to manage a company like Apple will go unmatched, in terms of the combination of personality and work ethics. Others have tried to match him, such as Facebook's CEO and founder Mark Zuckerburg, but few understand the talent and skill amalgamation that Jobs possessed which made him so successful. Not only did Jobs exert his own legitimate power, but he also engaged in the use of coercive power, particularly by the way he remained fearless towards his employees, even through use of extensive yelling and threatening to terminate them. Due to the fact that Jobs was the founder, he naturally possessed the expert power necessary to maintain a company like Apple. He knew the content of his products and their makeup, as well as how to present them for success. He also possessed the innovative mind to create new products for the consumer, which kept the company at the top of the list for new products among their segmented market.

“Politics isn't about big money or power games; it's about the improvement of people's lives” -Paul Wellstone

Jobs was unique in his management style by enforcing a strict secrecy policy, which followed his information power. He had confidential and privileged information that he withheld from his employees, such as financial reports and the details of the new products. Therefore, he exerted his information power to hire and fire employees accordingly. This is the way that he was able to hire Tim Cook from Compaq and bring him on to Apple payroll, knowing that Cook excelled at straightening out operations. Jobs used his knowledge of the superb job performance by Cook to promote him later to chief operating officer.

Jobs used politics effectively within the organization by replacing four out of five of the top executives soon after his return to Apple in the late 1990's. Furthermore, Jobs heavily enforced policies against pets, smoking, etc in the office or even in the parking lots, with threats of termination if broken. Jobs played politics well, particularly with executives from other companies, such as music record label companies for achieving their agreement to the 99 cent price per song on iTunes.

Jobs successfully used both his unique personality and his role as leader of the company to achieve great things for the company. His salary is a symbol of his dedication and self-motivation for the success of the company and the new products. Jobs' personality and characteristics is clearly reveals from the commencement speech he delivered to the graduates students of Stanford University in 2005.

Howard Schultz

Use of Technology to Campaign Against National Appointed Leaders

Howard Schultz may not be a name many people know right of the top of their heads, but Starbucks on the other hand is. As CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz has the ability to reach out to a great number of people through Starbucks’ power of social media like email, Facebook, and the company’s website.

Email -
On August 15th, 2011 Howard Schultz announced his campaign against National Elected leaders through an email to Starbucks customers, employees, and stockholders. This letter explained his campaign and announced two pledges: 1) to withhold any further campaign contributions to the President and all members of Congress until a fair, bipartisan deal is reached that sets our nation on stronger long-term fiscal footing. 2) Companies will start to hire in order to accelerate growth, employment, and investment in jobs. Following up on the first email, two other emails were sent out on September 1, 2011 and October 3rd, 2011.Through the series of emails to Starbucks’ many followers, Howard Schultz was able to share his concerns, present a solution, and gain support. His use of email in this situation shows how technology is able to connect one person to a large group.

With over 26 million followers on facebook, Starbucks can grab a lot of attention with just one post. As part of his pledge to hire new partners Howard Schultz had a job search application integrated to the Starbucks Facebook page in order to help job seekers. On their page we can read up on the "Create Jobs for USA" initiative Starbucks is taking as well as hear the voice of others on the topic.

How This Affects Politicians and the Government**

In the last five years Howard Schultz has donated $28,000 to politicians. To an average household that is a lot, but when you compare it the $5.2 billion spent on elections each year it really doesn’t make a difference to politicians if that money is donated or not. That’s why Howard Schultz invited other business leaders to join him on his two-part pledge in which leaders will hold back contributions to elections. He received a response from over 100 business leaders who have decided to take part in this pledge as well. In August 2011 he went on CNN and made this comment:

“The fundamental problem is that the lens through which Congress approaches issues is re-election. The lifeblood of their re-election campaigns is political contributions.”[6]

Through his actions and comments, Howard Schultz has made his message clear and taken matters into the hands of business leaders. This has put many National elected leaders and presidential candidates in an unfavorable spotlight.

Mark Zuckerberg

Power to stay connected

In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg initialy made facebook available to his classmates at Harvard University as the way of communication among themselves. within two decade,the site was expanded to include everyone in the corporate world, including colleges and high school students. People were require to create their account with valid e-mail address, when it became public. Now, Facebook has overcomes Myspace, the first dominant social networking. It has more than 500, 000 million users world wide, as of today.

Store graphic media

Beside connecting people in different geographically areas, Mark Zuckerberg and his engineering teams have designed facebook website as a storage media where users can share their photos online. It has unlimited capacity that store large volume of album."According to ComScore media metrix statistic quoted in the past, facebook led country in photo sharing capacity with 2.0 Web challenge". A capacity that allow users to share their photos online in different parts of the world. Corporates also post a large volume of their products on the internet to be view by online users.

Present marketing opportunities

Apart from allowing users to share their information and stay connected to one another, facebook provide market opportunities to business peolpe.Corporates and other small businesses use facebook web page to promote their products to target consumers. It provide a forum for dialogue between consumers and the brands, giving companies a close relationship with consumers. Consumers can view and evaluate all the brands on the internet with no middle man by their doors, promoting the brands.

Influences politics and decisions

That system of open forum on the internet was also adopted by political pigures. politician use their facebook webpage to rise money, engage or persuade their constituents. According to Randi Zuckerberg, during an interview with Joe Vericat for the journal of International Affairs, highlighted the influence of facebook on politic when he told Joe an example about Prime minister Ander Fogh who use facebook to engage his constituents. On corporat standpoint, facebook is becoming more democratic forum where everybody can share their views and opinions. In the spring of 2011, young people and politicians tored down their government across arab countiries, due to the power of social networking. People were able to connect themselves through the Internet and came with the decision that tore down old system of government.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah's Use of Media to Help Rise to Power

Charismatic Power -
Oprah’s ability to express herself in public has impressed people from the beginning of her career. A radio station, WVOL, had interviewed Oprah and was looking to sponsor someone for an upcoming Miss Fire Prevention competition. WVOL, a white-owned radio station operated by blacks and having a targeted black audience, was so impressed with Oprah during her interview asked her to enter the all white contest. Oprah entered the contest for fun and had no expectation for winning however, her winning personality and her intelligent responses captured the judges’ attention. Winning the Miss Fire Prevention Contest opened the door to Oprah’s future.[7]

Expert Power
With Oprah’s experience at WVOL, WTVF-TV, a CBS affiliate in Nashville, offered Oprah a position and, with resistance at first, Oprah finally auditioned and was hired becoming the first black person, the first woman, and the youngest person to assume a position of newscaster at the TV network. This new position solidified her foundation and set the trajectory for the success Oprah experiences today.[8]

Legitimate Power
In 1988, Oprah had received the Broadcaster of the Year Award and ranked among legends. Never satisfied with her status quo though, Oprah seemed to feed on challenges. She established Harpo, Inc. and a year later created her own production company, Harpo Productions, Inc. Then in July 1988, wanting more control over her own show, Oprah negotiated a deal with ABC, which gave her ownership of The Oprah Winfrey Show.With ownership of her own show, Oprah has become a household name, and has the ability to wield her own reward and coercive power.[9]

Reward Power
Since the acquisition of her own TV show and the growth of her wealth, Oprah has been rewarding her audiences with gifts, small and large. With her position, power, and money, she has been able to donate money to charity, create and open her own non-profit organization, and change the lives of people around the world.[10]

Coercive Power
In 2006, Oprah Winfrey had declared A Million Little Pieces, a nonfiction book, like nothing she had read before. With Oprah’s praise for James Frey’s book, an investigation was held over the authenticity of the book. After six weeks, it was discovered that the book was a fabricated piece of fiction and was announced so first by a website and then by Oprah on national television. The scandal resulted in millions of frivolous little lawsuits.[11]

Information Power
Becoming a newscaster, Oprah had the opportunity to have information before the general public had had the opportunity to hear the news. With her own TV show, Oprah had the chance to interact with celebrities and other well known people, and had the ability to control what was to be heard and what was to be kept secret.[12]

Referent Power
Since 1986,Oprah has experienced an upward spiral and an end cannot be seen. With people’s enthusiasm to keep staying tuned with Oprah and her life, her career has expanded and is still expanding because of the admiration and respect she has received.[13]

Oprah's Use of Technology to Influence Viewers

CNN and Time.com have declared Oprah Winfrey one of the most influential woman and arguably the world’s most powerful woman in the world. The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), and Oprah Magazine and their corresponding website reaches approximately 44 million viewers across the nation and around the world each week.[14] Oprah’s use of technology gives her the power to influence people in what they read, what and how they eat, whom they should like, and whom they should most likely vote for in an election. In the presidential election of 2008, Oprah had endorsed, soon to be president, Barrack Obama in his presidential campaign.[15] It is the first time Oprah had endorsed – not to mention thrown her brand name to– a political candidate. Economists have estimated that Oprah’s endorsement was worth over a million votes in the Democratic primary race and that without it Obama would have lost the nomination.[16] With technology today, her media empire has been able to reach millions upon millions of people.


“Create the highest, grandest, vision for your life because you become what you believe.” – Oprah Winfrey[17]

“My mission is to use this position, power, and money to create opportunity for other people.”– Oprah Winfrey[18]

3. Organizational Politics

Giving power to employees

Empowerment helps create conditions where subordinates (employees) can feel powerful, especially those who have a high need for power. Leaders (employers) empower their followers and subordinates through a process that provides direction, intellectual stimulate, emotional energy, developmental opportunities, and appropriate rewards.

Typical ways a leader might use these empowerment tactics include: "high involvement and participation in the decision making process, modifying and adapting one's ideas to include suggestions from others, involving others in the strategy formulation and implementation process, looking for creative and innovative solutions that will benefit the total organization, and instilling confidence in those who will implement the solutions."[19]

Abuse of Power

Power harassment is unwelcome attention of a political nature often occurring in the environment of a workplace. It is a range of behavior from mild irritation and annoyances to serious abuses which can even involve forced activities beyond the duties of the job description and working hours. It is common for workers to be fired or suffer sever repercussion if the superior's orders are not satisfied.[20]

Some examples of abuse:[21]

  • being scolded, in a loud voice, in front of other employees
  • neglect
  • false evaluation and demotion

III. Conclusions:

Politics: Power in Action

To be able to be involved and control politics, one must wield power first. The more power one has, the more influence that person has on politics. Becoming well-known and successful is not an easy task. It takes lots of effort and time to put those power into action to achieve desired results. That power can be generate from any of these bases; expert, legitimate, reward, referent, information, coercive. For example, Obama is using his legitimate power as President to achieve desired goals. On the other side, Zuckerberg and Schultz dominantly using information power to stay on top. However, Steve jobs exercised all of the five power and, he succeeded on bringing up changes in our lives.

Power Around the Globe

Power and the types of power carry the same definition around the world but some countries have extreme abuse of power, while others have great empowerment tactics.

Technology and How it Makes it Easier

Technology is one of the major sources of public power in today. The enormous power wielded by the masters of technical systems affect decisions made in peoples' everyday lives. Technology gets information out there faster and easier than ever before. People are more informed and decision making is made easier. Without technology, 99% of the world's leaders, the world's most powerful people, would not be where they are today.[22]


Advice and Recommendations for Managers

Origins of Power - Power not only comes from position but from everywhere possible. To be able to have the types of power mentioned, branch out, modify, and adapt so more power can be achieved.

Empowerment Tactics - Some things managers can do is: high involvement and participation in decision making process, include suggestions from others by modifying and adapting, involve others in formulation and implementation, and instilling confidence.

Harassment - Managers are not only taking care of themselves but also for several other people.
Do not let power get to one's head. With power there comes great responsibility. Apply anger management strategies, and always think before speaking or acting. Managers should model the behavior they desires from employees.

IV. References:

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  15. ^ http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/05/03/oprah-endorses-obama-2/
  16. ^ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17055698
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