The author thanks Dr. Morton Deutsch for discussing cooperation and power, Dr. Mary Tjosvold for demonstrating the use of power in cooperation, and Lynn Osele for her able assistance in collecting the data. Parts of this paper were presented at the American Psychological Association, New York City, 1979.
Unequal Power Relationships Within a Cooperative or Corn petit ive Context
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 11, Issue 2, pages 137–150, April 1981
How to Cite
Tjosvold, D. (1981), Unequal Power Relationships Within a Cooperative or Corn petit ive Context. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 11: 137–150. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1981.tb00734.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Sixty undergraduates negotiated an exchange of resources in dyads. They had either high or low power relative to the other and were within a competitive or cooperative context. Results support the hypothesis that these contexts affect unequal power persons' interaction and relationship. Compared to those in the cooperative context, high and lower power participants in the competitive context suspected each other, refused to exchange resources, developed negative attitudes toward each other, and associated power with control. In addition, low power participants in the competitive context indicated considerable insecurity about the interaction. These results highlight that previous literature has tended, often implicitly, to consider power and unequal power relationships within a competitive context. The dynamics proposed by this literature that inequality of power undermines negotiations and that power refers to the control of another were found to be much stronger within a competitive context than a cooperative one. Whereas the emphasis of the literature has been on power equalization, findings suggest that placing power differences in a cooperative con text can contribute to effective working relationships.