Paper info: The power potential of the less-powerful within networks. A political sensemaking process (PSP) model of rapid network development and dissolution. Discourse as deus ex-machina
The power potential of the less-powerful within networks. A political sensemaking process (PSP) model of rapid network development and dissolution. Discourse as deus ex-machina
James Fairhead andRay Griffin
Waterford Institute of Technology
Place of Publication
The paper was published at the 16th IMP-conference in Bath, U.K in 2000.
The paper commences by introducing the preliminary research question, which broadly asksabout the nature and role of power and political process in relationship/network developmentin general, and within multinational corporations (MNCs) more specifically. The paper thenpresents perspectives on power drawn broadly from the management and sociology literaturebefore summarising some of the key orientations to relationships and change within theindustrial network literature, and more specifically, the role within these of power andpolitical process. It appears that the historically prevailing view has been that relationshipswithin networks develop gradually and cumulatively over time, with power playing whatmight be termed a ?concrete? role in such a process, based primarily on identifiable resourcedependencies. The concept of 'system power?, beginning to emerge in the management andorganisation literature, is not explicitly articulated. In short, the less-powerful are seen asfacing formidable obstacles in seeking to achieve enhanced network positions and control andit is not clear under what circumstances rapid network change can be induced, let alone howthe less-powerful might be able to induce it.These two literature reviews therefore help raise a more specific research question, which isthe nature and significance of ?invisible? and ?impersonal? discourse-based power withinrelationships and networks and its association with rapid network change.To help address this question, the paper next introduces a case-study of rapid network changewithin a multi-national corporation (MNC) environment, and analyses this using each of thepower dimensions in turn. Most significantly, this analysis highlights the power potential ofthe less-powerful within networks, as well as the possibility of quasi-instantaneousrelationship development and rapid change (pace the network literature) ? that may beassociated with discourse-based 'system? power.The paper concludes by proposing a ?Political Sensemaking Process? (PSP) model of networkchange, which allows for the possibility of rapid change in both xxxxx