9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS16 Russia and Its European Identity

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Contemporary Russia as a Process: Where Does It Lead? Building II, C4.05

Power and Influence in Russian Business Organisations

The term "power" is understood in Weberian tradition as opportunity to achieve one's will despite opposition from others. As originally developed by Moscovici and Turner, there is dis-tinction between "influence" and "power" in organisation. Basing on the results of the research project "Human Resource Management in Russian Business Organisations: Realities, Problems, Perspectives" carried out in 2007-2008 in State University - Higher School of Economics we are going to consider the following aspects of power relations in Russian business organisations:
1. Values of organisational culture regarding power relations. From 37 to 53 per cent among ordinary workers reported their acceptance of such situations as superiors' bullying; workers' loyalty and obedience as criteria of their remuneration and promotion; the fact that workers keep silence while superiors violate their rights. The highest rates of agreement with employer's authoritarianism are registered among low-paid socially unprotected workers; workers in constructing and retail; workers in small enterprises with owners-top-managers.
2. "Power for": positive aspects of power relations. Employees' control and participation in day-to-day management in organisation break up into 1) formal control (membership in trade-unions), and 2) real participation in decision making. The former is registered mainly at large industrial post-soviet enterprises while the latter - at the new private sector of economy. Real participation in decision making is closely connected with respondents' high level of education and their orientations on achievement. In Hirshman's terminology, high-resource (competitive and hardly replaceable) workers have "exit" potential that provides them strong "voice" in defin-ing the "rules of the game" in labor relations.
3. "Power over": negative aspects of power relations. It is closely connected with "exploitative" style of management. Enterprises where workers are powerless, dependent, and excluded from decision making tend to have lower wages, 46-hour and longer workweek, black salaries and no work-based benefits. Protest potential, collective bargaining power in case of clash of employer/employee interests remains very low in Russian organizations so many low-resource workers find themselves in "vicious circle" of dependency and exploitation.