Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Harold Goldstein

Committee Members

Charles Scherbaum

Karen Lyness

Loren Naidoo

Charles Moses

Subject Categories

Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Leadership Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Social Psychology | Work, Economy and Organizations


social power, organizational culture, compliance, trust, situational context


This study focuses on social power in the context of organizational culture and how this relationship impacts outcomes of follower compliance and trust. Power is the ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or a course of events (Handgraaf, et al., 2008). There are six different types of social power, including informational, referent, legitimate, coercive, rewarding, and expert (Fontaine & Beerman, 1977). Each type of social power may lead to varying psychological outcomes, such as compliance, satisfaction, and agreement. To date, the empirical literature has not fully addressed the issue of whether one type of power is more effective than the others in different organizational cultural contexts. This study examined the effectiveness of four types of social power in varying organizational cultural contexts for eliciting follower compliance and trust (Tharp, 2009). The methodology employed videos which manipulated the types of power and culture to examine their impact on followers. Followers were asked to what extent they would comply with the leader and how much they trusted the leader. None of the findings for MANOVA, ANOVA and T-tests were statistically significant. Coercive power in hierarchical culture demonstrated higher compliance and trust outcome means, but reward power within an adhocracy culture demonstrated lower compliance and trust outcome means.

Results are discussed in terms of potential confounders, possible attributional influences, and the implications for organizational outcomes of compliance and trust.