Power relations in companies – a methodological and conceptual analysis

Virgile Chassagnon

Table of Contents


Economics has always been reluctant towards the concept of power, which cannot be operationalized in microeconomic models but can justify ex post rationalizations. Yet power is a vector of social institutionalization that economists must integrate to make the firm a political entity and accomplish real explanatory progress. Therefore, the article aspires to propose a renewed methodological analysis of power, which implies a collective structure while relying on individuals as actors. On the basis of this conceptual clarification, an essay for defining power in the firm is proposed: power is the latent capacity (which may or may not be exercised) of an entity A to constrain and draw the choices of an entity B so that the behavior and actions of B are oriented in a direction favorable to A, by mechanisms intrinsic to the socio-economic relationship that may be formal or informal. Such a definition of power makes it possible to reconsider transformative agency in the firm and to link power with the relational dispositions of the organizations of capitalism.

Codes JEL: B40, D20, L00, P12.


  • firm
  • methodology
  • organization theory
  • power
  • theory of the firm

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