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Fifty years of influence in the workplace: The evolution of the French and Raven power taxonomy

Steven Elias (Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, USA)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




While focusing on the renowned bases of social power put forth by French and Raven in 1959, this paper aims to address the history and future of this taxonomy within organizational settings. Topics include the evolution of the power taxonomy, the power/interaction model, and matters relevant to future research and practice.


First, a historical overview of the French and Raven power taxonomy is provided. Second, ways in which the taxonomy has been updated over the past several decades are discussed. Third, an overview of Raven's power/interaction model (1993) is presented. Lastly, implications for future research and practice within organizations are offered.


A review of the historic and contemporary writings dedicated to social power would indicate that the advances made to the original French and Raven power taxonomy have not been incorporated into the management and organizational behavior literatures.

Practical implications

Practitioners and scholars interested in issues related to influence in organizational settings would benefit from an understanding of the historical developments that have occurred to the power taxonomy over the past half‐century, as well as the formation of the power/interaction model.


This paper provides readers with a historical overview of the development of the French and Raven social power taxonomy, in addition to addressing the field's more recent developments. As such, the paper will be of value to anyone interested in influence within organizational settings.



Elias, S. (2008), "Fifty years of influence in the workplace: The evolution of the French and Raven power taxonomy", Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 267-283.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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