ASQ Special Issue on Social Psychological Perspectives on Power and Hierarchy PDF

Call for Papers

Special Issue on “Social Psychological Perspectives on Power and Hierarchy”

The Administrative Science Quarterly is seeking papers for a special issue on Social Psychological Perspectives on Power and Hierarchy, guest edited by Francis Flynn, Deborah Gruenfeld, Linda Molm, and Jeffrey Polzer. While studies of power dynamics at the firm level of analysis have a rich history in organizational research, studies that focus on the individual and interpersonal level are noticeably absent. In particular, we lack insight on how power shapes employee attitudes and behaviors as individuals and as members of workgroups. Does having power, authority, or influence alter an individual’s cognitions, motives, and actions? More importantly, are such alterations good or bad for the organization and their less powerful members?

Power is a fundamental aspect of life in organizations, in the sense that any social structure is characterized by political activity. Further, managers must be able to diagnose organizational politics, anticipate others’ political moves, and wield power in ways that benefit their constituents and advance their political goals. However, ideas about how power affects the way people perceive their environments, approach interpersonal relations, and make important decisions are rarely discussed in the pages of ASQ. With this special issue we hope to address this gap, and, in turn, help develop and inspire sound theory around the social psychology of power in organizations.

This special issue is oriented toward social psychological perspectives on power and hierarchy. We invite contributions from social, sociological, and organizational psychologists that cover a range of themes, including the following:

a) How does power affect managerial decision making? Does power embolden people to make riskier decisions or encourage them to adopt a more conservative approach?

b) How do the powerful interact with the powerless? Are powerholders unable to assume the perspective of their subordinates, or is it the subordinates who fail to appreciate the challenges that senior leaders confront?

c) How does power affect an individual’s preferences for fair treatment, ethical norms, and socially responsible actions? Is power the root of all evil in organizations, or can power correct just as it corrupts?

d) How does power influence exchanges among members of organizations? Are powerholders more or less prosocial than those who lack power?

e) How do emotions relate to power? Are powerholders more or less intense in exhibiting their emotions? Are they more impactful when they are angry or jubilant? How skilled are powerholders at recognizing others’ emotional difficulties?

f) What are the cognitive and affective processes that undergird power relations, particularly group dynamics?

g) Are those with power more or less likely to leverage diverse points of view? How do hierarchical power differences affect other sorts of intergroup relations, such as those based in race or gender?

h) How does power affect individual creativity and group innovation? Are the powerful more or less tolerant of divergent thinking?

i) Are there interventions that can effectively “empower” members of organizations to take action in times of adversity and uncertainty?

Of course, this list of questions is meant to be provocative, rather than exhaustive. Our goal is to broaden and deepen theories of power and hierarchy in organizations. We prefer not to put limits on how scholars may go about doing that. Our openness applies to both the questions posed as well as the methods employed.

The last date for submissions is March 31, 2010. Manuscripts in ASQ format can be submitted to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , with the subject-line heading "Psychological Perspectives on Power and Hierarchy Special Issue." See the Notice to Contributors on the ASQ Web page ( for information on preparing manuscripts.


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