French and Raven's bases of power

In a notable study of power conducted by social psychologists John R. P. French and Bertram Raven in 1959, power is divided into five separate and distinct forms.[1] They identified those five bases of power as coercive, reward, legitimate, referent, and expert. This was followed by Raven's subsequent identification in 1965 of a sixth separate and distinct base of power: informational power.[2]

French and Raven defined social influence as a change in the belief, attitude, or behavior of a person (the target of influence) that results from the action of another person (an influencing agent), and they defined social power as the potential for such influence, that is, the ability of the agent to bring about such a change using available resources.[3]

Relating to social communication studies, power in social influence settings has introduced a large realm of research pertaining to persuasion tactics and leadership practices. Through social communication studies, it has been theorized that leadership and power are closely linked. It has been further presumed that different forms of power affect one's leadership and success. This idea is used often in organizational communication and throughout the workforce.

Though there have been many formal definitions of leadership that did not include social influence and power, any discussion of leadership must inevitably deal with the means by which a leader gets the members of a group or organization to act and move in a particular direction.[3]

Whereby, this is to be considered "power" in social influential situations.

Overview

The original French and Raven (1959) model included five bases of power – reward, coercion, legitimate, expert, and referent – however, informational power was added by Raven in 1965, bringing the total to six.[4] Since then, the model has gone through very significant developments: coercion and reward can have personal as well as impersonal forms. Expert and referent power can be negative or positive. Legitimate power, in addition to position power, may be based on other normative obligations: reciprocity, equity, and responsibility. Information may be utilized in direct or indirect fashion.[4]

French and Raven defined social power as the potential for influence (a change in the belief, attitude or behavior of a someone who is the target of influence.[2]

As we know leadership and power are closely linked. This model shows how the different forms of power affect one's leadership and success. This idea is used often in organizational communication and throughout the workforce. "The French-Raven power forms are introduced with consideration of the level of observability and the extent to which power is dependent or independent of structural conditions. Dependency refers to the degree of internalization that occurs among persons subject to social control. Using these considerations it is possible to link personal processes to structural conditions".[5]