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Manage Organizational Change: Legitimate Power

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Organizational change is a process to modify and review the previous management structure and the process of business. However, the change of an organization includes competitive working environment, implementation of new technology, economic environment and demand of the consumers[1]. Apart from this government policy and the regulations are the part of organizational change. On the other hand, power refers to the organizational power that is the five bases of power and the political power. Power and the politics are the vital parts of the organizational changes; Positive power of the organization increases the productivity and allows the employees to take decision. Therefore, the positive workplace politics allows the employees to learn and to navigate the politics within an organization. This makes the employees more productive in an organization. Different national cultures accept the power in different ways as people from different cultures have different beliefs and the perspectives. In Singapore and Australia, national culture leaves a big impact on the change in an organization. However, different dimensions of the Hofstede’s culture also affect the organizational change[2]. This study deals with the effects of national culture on the acceptance and use of the power in the change management in an organization. Therefore, the critical analysis will be taken on the change management process in the context of the application power within an organization.


Different types of powers are associated with the change program management. French and Raven have established five bases of power in the year 1959 that are associated with the change management program. However, in order to bring changes within an organization, such powers play an important role. One of the most important powers is the legitimate power among the five bases of power. This power highlights on the belief of an individual that each person has the formal right to show his or her demand. Therefore, they can expect from other people to be obedient and complaint[3]. This power allows the organization to execute the demand for a change in an organization. The reward is the second type of power among the four bases of power. This provides compensation to an individual based on his or her ability to work. Employee efficiency is required to bring organizational change. Hence, in order to make an employee efficient reward is a good process to encourage them in their work.

Expert is another element of the five bases of power. This power focuses on the high level of skill of a person and huge knowledge[4]. However, to bring change in an organization efficient knowledge and skilled persons are required. The experts reserve the power of knowledge and give shape the change management process within an organization by utilizing their skill. On the other hand, perceived attractiveness of a person, right to respect other and worthiness highlight on the referent power.  In order to carry out the change management worthiness and showing respect to other perspectives are necessary. The capability of a person to punish other due to the noncompliance with the legal requirement and the policies is associated with the coercive power. During the change management, process compliance with the organizational policy and government regulation is crucial to avoid the legal issue[5]. Apart from the above powers, there is an additional power is the informational power, which refers to the ability of a person to control the information process within a change management program.


Application of the five bases of powers leaves both positive and negative effect on the organizational change. However, the legitimate power or the positional power allows a person to hold a position in the management of hierarchy based on his or her rank. This is a good practice to achieve the position legitimately and there is less favoritism[6]. Therefore, the expert power enables the people to think critically by using their knowledge and skill. This is important to solve any issue during the change management process. However, often the persons having more knowledge and skill focus on their own decision and do not allow others to participate in the decision-making during the implementation of the new change in an organization. This affects the change management process in an organization as communication gap occurs between the employees.

Referent power enables a person to show respect to others and makes them trustworthiness. This power is beneficial for the change management by establishing a good relationship between the employees in an organization. However, a collaborative work is necessary for bringing change in an organization. Coercive power is the capacity of the individuals to punish someone due to noncompliance with the rules. This is effective to bring changes in an organization by maintaining all legal frameworks. However, it is often difficult for the organization to follow the changing rules of the government while implementing the new system in an organization. This affects the change management process[7]. Reward power is the most crucial way to motivate the employees in their work that insists them to accept the changes in an organization and to make themselves flexible with the new environment. The major drawback of this reward program is it often creates jealousy between the employees and discrimination.

Hofstede’s cultural dimension refers to a framework of the cross cultural communication process. However, the value of a society culture on its members is the basic element of such theory. Power distance index refers to the belief that allows the individuals to accept the equal distribution of the power. Therefore, individualism vs the collectivism index highlights on the integration of the people in a group within a society[8]. A tight integration and establishment of the good relationship is the main element of such dimensions. Uncertainty avoidance index is another component of this culture, which focuses on the tolerance level of the society for ambiguity. In this dimension, individuals avert an event, which is unexpected or totally new for them. Masculinity vs femininity is another dimension of this theory. In this dimension, the masculinity refers to a preferable position in a society. However, in a masculine society, the women are empathetic in nature but more than the men are.


Long-term vs short-term orientation highlights on the connection between the past and the present. The country, which is short-term oriented is economically week while the long-term oriented country gets continuous development. Restraint vs indulgence index focuses on the fulfillment of the happiness. Indulgence is a society that allows the human being to exhibit their desires and to enjoy[9].  On the other hand, restraint refers to a society where the gratification is under control. Such cultural dimension reveals a difference between the cultural values. Therefore, the international cultures are differentiated by the application of such Hofstede’s cultural dimension theory.

National cultures or Hofstede culture influence the French and Raven's five bases of powers. According to the Hofstede cultural dimension, theory power is distributed equally and the people of society should accept such distribution[10]. On the other hand, legitimate power allows the person to get position according to their formal right. Hence, there is a clear account of the equal distribution of the power, which can be taken place during the change management. In the uncertainty avoidance index, there is the tolerance level of the society in the context of an unexpected event. However, if a culture scores high in this index this become less tolerant of the changes and minimizes the anxiety level. However, the reward power process is influenced by this dimension as the employees who have the high level of performance will minimize the anxiety level during the change in an organization. Expert power can be influenced by the masculinity vs femininity index of the Hofstede culture. The culture which scores low in this index shows less gender differences as a result, an expert can be chosen based on the skill rather than the gender within an organization[11].

Hofstede’s culture influences the referent power as each culture has specific features. However, people belong from the different cultures having different attractiveness’s, which are associated with the referent power. The referent power is associated with person’s attractiveness and the worthiness hence, people from different cultures show different features based on their culture. Coercive power is influenced by indulgent vs restraint index of Hofstede culture. In this dimension cultures that provide value to restraint follow the strict social rules that lead the satisfaction of human to regulate or discouraged[12]. Coercive power focuses on the individual’s ability to punish someone for the noncompliance with the rules and regulation. Hence, this particular feature of this cultural dimension influences this power during the change management process. Change depends on the culture of a specific country. Hence, in order to bring changes in an organization, it is crucial to give value to the national cultures. Any changes in an organization should not be affected the culture of the organization as well as the employees. It is important to give value to the employee's culture while bringing changes in an organization. However, Hofstede's cultural dimension influences each power of the five bases of power based on the cultural communication.

Singapore and Australia have the different ranking based on the Hofstede dimension. However, Singapore scores high in the power distance dimension that is 74. On the other hand, Australia scores low that is 36 in this index.  As a high power distance culture, Singapore needs strong leadership in the change management that can be done through legitimate power. On the other hand, as a low power distance culture, Australia needs more autonomy and the personal responsibility in the change management[13]. On the other hand, Singapore scores 20 in the individualism dimension that highlights the issues regarding the maintenance of the independence of the members of the society. On the other hand, Australia scores 90 in this index that also focuses on the group interest rather than the individual interest. In the masculinity index, Singapore scores low that is 48, which refers femininity where quality life is the main indicator of the success. On the other hand, Australia, scores high that are 61, which highlights on the masculinity and it gives a clear indication of the competition, success and the achievement that is driven by the society[14]. Singapore has the low rank in the uncertainty of avoidance index. This highlights on the greater security of the job and high standardization level.


Australia has a high score in this index that highlights on the low job security and much uncertainty. In the long-term vs short-term oriented index Singapore scores high that is 48, which is higher than Australia. However, low sore of Australia in this dimension reveals that long-term commitment may hamper the change in an organization[15]. While in the context of Singapore, long-term goal will be helpful for such countries to manage the change. Singapore and Australia both focus on the restraint process, which is associated with the coercive power. However, it is essential for the cultures of both countries to maintain the legal rules during the implementation of any change in the organization. However, the cultural dimensions of both countries are different from one another and possessing different scores in each dimension of the Hofstede culture. It has been found that legitimacy power is valuable in Singapore rather than Australia. On the other hand, reward power is more preferable to the Australian culture in comparison to the Singapore. Referent and expert power are valuable for both countries to manage the changes.

The entire piece of work reveals the change management process in an organization. However, French and Raven's five bases of powers are associated with the change management process in an organization. It has been found that the different powers of the five bases of power have an impact on the change management process. In order to develop a better change management process, it is important to comply with the rules and regulation of the organization and the government by addressing coercive power. Legitimate power is helpful for the individuals to get position according to their right[16]. Expert power focuses on the knowledge distribution during the change management while referent power is associated with the worthiness. Reward powers play a great role to motivate the employees to accept the change. From this study, it has been received that national cultures or the Hofstede’s dimensional theory influence the five bases of powers in relation to change management[17]. On the other hand, A comparison of the power-related Hofstede's culture in the context of Singapore and Australia also addressed. Based on the scores of different dimensions of Hofstede culture power bases are identified in Australia and Singapore.



Berlin, Cecilia, W. Patrick Neumann, Nancy Theberge, and Roland Örtengren. "‘Power base’tactics for workplace change–an interview study with industrial engineers and ergonomists." Ergonomics 60, no. 5 (2017): 613-627.

Beugelsdijk, Sjoerd, Tatiana Kostova, and Kendall Roth. "An overview of Hofstede-inspired country-level culture research in international business since 2006." Journal of International Business Studies 48, no. 1 (2017): 30-47.

Block, Joern H., and Sascha G. Walter. "2. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and modes of entry into entrepreneurship." Exploring the Entrepreneurial Society: Institutions, Behaviors and Outcomes(2017): 22.

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Koch, Thomas, Magdalena Obermaier, and Claudia Riesmeyer. "Powered by public relations? Mutual perceptions of PR practitioners’ bases of power over journalism." Journalism (2017): 1464884917726421.

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