Power in the workplace: An investigation of the phenomena in industrial relations utilising data from an engineering company.

  • Paul S. Kirkbride

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis commences with a review, evaluation and critique of selected theories of power from the literature of sociology and political science. The partial nature of most of these theories and the various confusions and contradictions that surround them are described and the central themes extracted. These themes would have to be incorporated, explained and resolved by any alternative model of power. The major theories of power in the organisational theory and industrial relations are then reviewed. Attention is drawn to the lacuna surrounding power within the industrial relations tradition. The various theories are then located in terms of their epistemological and methodological assumptions and their functionalist origins revealed. It is argued that any new model of power should focus upon alternative paradigms in order to relate the concepts of action and structure. Power is seen as a concept which is inherently related to the processes of social life. The theories of social action and social structure are then reconciled by the concept of 'levels of social life' and by the 'theory of structuration'. An alternative theoretical model is then developed in order to explain the operation of power in the workplace. Data gathered from a research study in an engineering company is then presented. The research methodology which included tape-recording and direct observation is then described and evaluated. The data is structured in an attempt to describe, illustrate, illuminate and analyse the operation and processes of power within the workplace studied. An attempt is then made to integrate the understandings of power derived from field research and theoretical study respectively.
Date of Award1983
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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