The experience of powerlessness in organizations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

316 Scopus citations


Powerlessness is defined as a lack of autonomy and participation. Unexpected or undesired powerlessness is argued to generate, sequentially, reactance, helplessness, and work alienation. These stages are further argued to be mediated or moderated by generalized expectations of control, social isolation, the perceived legitimacy of organizational controls, and expectations of advancement. Self-report data from 206 nonsupervisory production employees with up to 2 years organizational tenure provided partial support for the model. Implications for theory, management, and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-242
Number of pages36
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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