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Title page for ETD etd-03182009-111636


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Collins, Leslie Venise
Author's Email Address leslievenise@comcast.net
URN etd-03182009-111636
Title Examining Power in Health and Human Service Organizations: A Case Study
Degree Master of Science
Department Community Research and Action
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Sandra L. Barnes Committee Chair
Paul R. Dokecki Committee Member
Paul W. Speer Committee Member
Keywords
  • organizations
  • justic
  • relationship quality
  • organizational structure
  • power
  • staff agency
Date of Defense 2009-03-17
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
This thesis uses Foucault’s conceptualization of power to examine power dynamics in two health and human service organizations. Foucault suggests that power should be observed by assessing relationships, cultures, and ideologies. Recognizing power processes that inform individual agendas, culture, and structure is vital for understanding how organizations function and potentially create sustainable change. However, there are few academic studies that focus on organizational power. Moreover, when investigating power in organizations, research has tended to: 1) compartmentalized power; 2) classify its definition as a human capacity; or 3) privilege collective efforts to exercise power. Findings based on an analysis of interviews, focus groups, participant observations, and organizational artifacts indicate the presence of power at multiple organizational levels. Results also reveal varying and often contradictory expressions of power as well as informal power dynamics. Given these outcomes, I present a model based on Foucaultian themes to simultaneously observe power at multiple organizational levels. Lastly, theoretical and practical implications for organizations, policy, and organizational change are discussed.
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