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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Lebenswissen­schaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Psychologie

Effects of Influence Tactics and Power Bases on Group Problem Solving

People can influence others in different ways: On the one hand, they can restrict the others’ freedom (hard influence tactics) and ignore their interests (restrictive control). On the other hand, they can promote the others’ freedom (soft influence tactics) and take their interests into account (promotive control).

The effects of influence or control tactics on knowledge acquisition and group performance are usually examined in field studies (e.g. Scholl, 1996). In my Ph.D. project, I studied these effects by means of two laboratory experiments with small groups including power base as a possible moderator (Klocke, 2004). Hard vs. soft influence tactics, as well as expert vs. position power were manipulated by instructions and external incentives. Independent of their power base, powerholders using hard tactics acquired less task knowledge because their targets became more helpless. When powerholders were more competent compared to their targets, hard influence tactics improved group performance; when they were not, hard tactics impaired group performance. Dissonance theory correctly predicted the effects on the powerholders’ evaluation of the targets and the self (Klocke, 2009): Powerholders using hard tactics devalued the competence and cooperativeness of their targets, while at the same time enhancing the evaluation of their own. Self enhancement was also found when influence tactics had been incongruent to the powerholders’ power base (harsh tactics based on expert power or soft tactics based on position power). This, probably, was due to its threat to self adequacy.

References:

Klocke, U. (2004). Folgen von Machtausübung und Einflussnahme für Wissenszuwachs und Effektivität in Kleingruppen. Berlin: Dissertation.de.

Klocke, U. (2009). 'I am the best': Effects of influence tactics and power bases on powerholders' self evaluation and target evaluation. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 12, 619-637.

Scholl, W. (1996). Effective teamwork - A theoretical model and a test in the field. In E. Witte & J. Davis (Eds.), Understanding group behavior. Small group processes and interpersonal relations. Vol. 2. (pp. 127-146). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.