Can CCO and power be separated?Posted: April 28, 2013
Can CCO be separated from power? What I mean by this is for communication to be constitutive must it always be power-infused? Can CCO be accomplished without any power have been exercised?
I suppose it depends on how power is conceptualised. Broadly speaking, power can be understood in one of two ways. As ‘power over’ and as ‘power to’. ‘Power over’ refers to power as commodity, as possession and manifests in descriptions that locate power as ‘belonging’ to certain roles and individuals – CEOs are commonly seen as having power. ‘Power over’ power is often associated with acts that get people to do what they otherwise would not want to do – so it tends to have negative connotations. This is by far the most common conceptualization of power, but it is one that has been challenged.
‘Power to,’ by contrast, frames power as generative, as productive, it posits power as relational rather than as a commodity suggesting that power is something that is exercised in unfolding practice. ‘Power to’ acts can be traced in all organizing acts, it is claimed, and can be exercised by anyone in an organization. This framing of power constructs it as something inherent in CCO. Indeed, it suggests CCO would not be possible without power being exercised. This implies it would fruitful for CCO researchers to investigate how power is exercised in CCO contexts, and yet, apart from the work of Timothy Kuhn, I’m not aware that CCO scholars have significantly engaged with power. Why is this, I wonder? Is it because CCO scholars have a ‘power over’ understanding of power? Or, simply that it’s not deemed to be important to how CCO emerges?
Your comments and views on this are welcomed.