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Beyond Dependence: A Political Capital Perspective on Power in Organizations


In this paper we develop a political capital theory that goes beyond exchange theory and resource dependence approaches to power. At the socio-behavioral level we identify three analytically distinct sources of power in social interactions: relative dependence, social status, and identification. We view political capital as the varied set of resources available to individuals in organizational settings to influence the actions and ideas of others, despite resistance. We develop a typology of sources of political capital: human, social, symbolic, reputational, economic, organizational, and cultural, and explore the social and behavioral mechanism by which these resources affect others. These social resources are subject to accumulation, leverage, depletion, and depreciation, as individual engage in social interactions in organizations. We examine how these various forms of political capital affect relative dependence, social status, and identification. Relying on both macro (Bourdieu) and micro (Lewin) field theory perspectives, we posit that the value of the sources of political capital is shaped by the cultural and economic processes in the organization and organizational field. Power at the level of social interactions is a result of the activation and deployment of the various sources of political capital in social interactions.


Working Paper


William Ocasio, Jo-Ellen Pozner

Date Published



Ocasio, William, and Jo-Ellen Pozner. 2005. Beyond Dependence: A Political Capital Perspective on Power in Organizations.


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