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Organizational power embodied in hand and finger touchlines

Andrew Creed (Deakin University-Geelong Waterfront Campus, Geelong, Australia)
Ambika Zutshi (Deakin University-Geelong Waterfront Campus, Geelong, Australia)
Russell Johnson (Michigan State University Eli Broad, College of Business, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 11 February 2021



The purpose of this paper is to develop a nuanced interpretative frame that can help global managers with recommendations to avoid misapplied power with group and organizational situations.


Embodied metaphor is applied in analysis of the theory-praxis nexus to reconceive the bases, processes and resources associated with group and organizational power. Identified are patterns of relations in organizational bases and circuits of power, as expressed through literal and symbolic aspects of human hands and fingers. The paper does not revolve around gesticulations; instead focusing upon a novel, meta-cultural development of touchlines of the human hand, revealing conceptual relationships with the implementation of influence.


A differentiated understanding of the touchline powers of technology, information, self-awareness, relation to others and access to money can respectively improve decisions and actions. Insights are provided in the areas of controlling people to achieve objectives, demeaning others, managing change and resistance for personal gain, negotiating contracts, advancing personal interests and coordinating reward or punishment.

Research limitations/implications

Choosing one metaphor may contribute to the exclusion of other perspectives, however, the embodied nature of the hand and touchlines tends to cross cultures and may assist further research to address the embedded nature of abuses of organizational power.


The contribution is in the theory-praxis nexus to assist global managers in addressing the risk of potential misuse of power and influence in organizations and to respond to calls for ancient indigenous epistemological systems to assume a role in contemporary management studies.



Creed, A., Zutshi, A. and Johnson, R. (2021), "Organizational power embodied in hand and finger touchlines", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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