Power Relationships and Pressure to Perform at Work: The Case of Medical Clowns Vs. Animal Assisted Therapists and Evaluators Vs. Stakeholder

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Shlomit BECHAR, Beit Berl Academic College, Israel
Irit MERO JAFFE, Beit Berl Academic College, Israel
Power relationships at work are a common phenomenon that appears in a variety of contexts. In organizational literature we find two types of explanations to this phenomenon: one that focuses on structural characteristics like organizational climate or organizational culture that encourage poor relationships, dissatisfaction, lack of motivation, and even bullying; the other one, focuses on personal or professional factors that illuminate power relationships and pressure to perform.

Based on our experience evaluating two programs in which power relationships created undesirable outcomes; we suggest to adopt a dialogical approach that integrates between organizational, professional and personal aspects that better explains power relations.

One program was an intervention conducted by an animal assisted therapist (AAT) and a medical clown (MC) in an emergency center for young kids, and aimed to be a relaxation activity; the other program was an innovative training program for teachers who intended to become school headmasters, that was conducted by an expert in that field.

In both programs, performance expectations were high, the time table was limited and proven outcomes according to goals were required. These prerequisites formed problematic work relations among the actors; impaired performance and even bulling were detected. For example, At the structural level, the lack of clear role definitions and clear division of labor created professional and personal tension; AAT didn't give MC enough leeway in choosing how to carry out her role; having fear of evaluation, the training program head didn't accept the evaluators' role, didn't cooperate, and limited access to information. A different perception of professional and organizational culture (AAT-MC/program head-evaluators) led to professional disagreements that permeated the personal level and caused personal disparagement and incredibility.

In order to cope with power relations that impair personal, professional and organizational performance, an ethical contract that characterized by a dialogue approach is proposed.