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The Concept of Power

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The Concept of Power
The concept of power is present within various realms of all organizations. Power, however, is not something that should necessarily be looked at negatively. There are justifiable types of power that may be important to criminal justice organizations. The main role of power in criminal justice administration should be to gain compliance from subordinates of all types, and turn that power over time into acceptable forms of authority (Stojkovic et al., 2008). It is for this reason that power is an important attribute in criminal justice agencies. It is important as a criminal justice manager, and agency as a whole, to have legitimate power. Power that is not coercive and works for the good of the organization is beneficial in gathering information, resources, and compliance. Legitimate, expert, and referent power can be effective in the attainment of goals (Stojkovic et al., 2008). Legitimate power operates on the assumption that those in traditional authority positions are the power holder and wield their authority over the power recipient because their internalized norms justify the amount of compliance needed (Stojkovic et al., 2008). Legitimate power is most useful within criminal justice agencies because it takes into account the culture, and social structure, and operates within a hierarchy to promote successful delegation of duties. While political power does have some benefits within a criminal justice agency, it is easily corruptible and leads one to believe legitimate power should be internally focused for a successful organization. There is a difference is the power structure from group to group, and it has been found that power is mostly socially based. The key to successful power structures that work for all situations is to recognize the correct type of power for each group and manage it internally for a more successful organization overall (Stojkovic et al., 2008).

Essay 2: Max Weber’s study of authority gave birth to his division and classification of three types of authority. These classifications of authority are often used in various roles in criminal justice administrations. While Weber believed that power and authority are decidedly different concepts, the two can be used in conjunction, and often are used for categorization within criminal justice agencies. Traditional, charismatic, and legal authorities are all well-defined in the use of authority by criminal justice administrations. Traditional authority is leadership that is based on the historical customs of a society or group. Within an organization, traditional authority is based on the precedented methods of operation that have changed little over time (Stojkovic et al., 2008). In relation to the criminal justice administration, one may view traditional authority in the form of commanding power of a warden within a corrections system. The warden is the head of the hierarchy and operates simply in the way that a warden always has operated. In respect to traditional authority, things do not change because procedures are based on customs and merely continue as they always have. Weber’s second type of influence is charismatic authority. Charismatic authority is characterized by a leader with rare personal features that attract others to them. Charismatic leaders have qualities that are powerful and challenging to traditional authority because it is based on an emotional bond often felt by followers. Criminal justice agencies have charismatic leaders that emerge from time to time. For example, a veteran police officer is often bonded with and looked upon with such respect that they often emerge as charismatic leaders (Stojkovic et al., 2008). Additionally, some politically motivated supervisors in criminal justice agencies regularly possess charismatic authority. However, charismatic authority rarely lasts and often gives way to one of the other two types of authority. Weber’s final classification of authority exists as legal authority. Legal authority is the most commonly used in the criminal justice system because it relies on rules and procedures ingrained in organizational hierarchies (Stojkovic et al., 2008). The basis of legal authority is that underlings must follow the chain of command within a system. Subordinates are expected to take command from those of higher rank. This is the typical system of most police departments and corrections offices having a sergeant, lieutenant, and a captain above subordinates. Legal authority is most often found in the criminal justice system (Stojkovic et al., 2008).

Essay 3: Situations of conflict often involve various episodes which occur before a possible resolution. The five conflict episodes are all interrelated and have an amount of permanence that must be understood beyond the immediate circumstances (Stojkovic et al., 2008). Within these stages is the latent conflict, perceived conflict, felt conflict, manifest conflict, and conflict aftermath. The five stages of conflict are often affected by both environmental and organizational factors, leading to a complex occurrence on the way to dissolution. The early stages of a conflict episode are where the conditions for conflict are rooted. The latent conflict stage occurs when there is stiff rivalry for resources, leading to an overly competitive situation. Additionally, there is a drive for self-sufficiency, and a difference of opinion on subunit goals (Stojkovic et al., 2008). This situation is often present in police divisions where differing departments are competing for the same resources. While the common goal is to deter and fight crime, each subunit has its own opinion of the best way to do this, and promote the individual units. Departments, or even individual officers, that are forced to work together on a common goal will experience latent conflict. The situation of latent conflict moves into the next level of conflict, perceived conflict, once at least one party recognizes that a conflict is present (Stojkovic et al., 2008). This may occur when two officers involved in the latent conflict stage are internally battling over an issue, and one makes the decision that they will press on in the battle, needing their voice heard on what is an important issue to the individual. The officer may also choose to not give precedence to the issue. The third stage of the conflict episode results when one party decides to make the conflict personal. This stage is characterized by felt conflict, when one party can no longer ignore an issue. An example of this exists when two same level corrections officers are seeking the same promotion, and one becomes unable to function in a professional or friendly manner to the other because of the conflict. At this time, an entire organization may be at danger of experiencing negative side effects from this one conflict. Once a conflict is taken to a personal level, it may move into the manifest conflict stage. During the manifest stage behaviors that may be hidden or evident will present themselves to uncover the conflict (Stojkovic et al., 2008). The occurrence of negative behaviors in manifest conflict stage may occur between two officers, or even among supervisors and subordinates that will knowingly irritate or sabotage the other person’s interests. Conflict aftermath begins once the issues that began the conflict are dealt with for resolution.

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