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This chapter reviews a program of work investigating how social power, defined as a structurally based capability, affects the tactics chosen in a conflict. A nonzero-sum approach to power stipulates that the total amount of power in a relationship can have effects distinct from those of relative power or power difference. This assumption is grounded in Emerson's power dependence theory and reminiscent of Tannenbaum's concept of control. The basic ideas are that (1) higher total power in a relationship has an integrative effect on that relationship, resulting in more conciliatory and less hostile responses to conflict; and (2) larger power differences have divisive effects on a relationship, making conflict resolution less conciliatory and more hostile. Research on revolutionary coalitions, power dependence processes in bargaining, and bilateral deterrence exemplify and support the importance of the nonzero-sum approach to power.


Suggested Citation
Lawler, E. J. (1993). From revolutionary coalitions to bilateral deterrence: A nonzero-sum approach to social power [Electronic version]. In J. K. Murnighan (Ed.) Social psychology in organizations: Advances in theory and research (pp. 269-295). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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