NOTESFINAL - 5/6/08 AFTER THE MIDTERM Organizations as...

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5/6/08 AFTER THE MIDTERM Organizations as Political Arenas Organizations are political because they involve: - Power and power differences o Ppl who have most power win in decision-making, not necessarily person who is right - Conflicts and conflict resolutions - Differences in interests - Disagreements in decision-making often resolved on the basis of who has more clout rather than who is right (cf. dealing with a boss)  Readings underscore: there isn't a generic thing called politics which is homogenous. Useful concepts - resource dependencies o resources are goal-dependent o money=resources - quasi-resolution of conflict - If winning organizational disagreements is a function of power, then what serves as the basis for power? - Resource Dependency Theory (RDT) starts from the intuition that power is a function of resources and resource flows in orgs and between orgs. o Those resource flows engender power relations RDT - all organizations are open systems - resources flow across organizational boundaries (both in and out) - key question for RDT: how do patterns of resource flows generate dependencies and thus power differences? - What is a resource? Something that is useful with respect
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to some goal - Resources vary by goal, and can be more or less specific - Orgs strive for stability and certainty of critical resources - But, such resources must often be obtained from outside the org - Orgs are dependent on external sources of key resources, and hence those sources gain power over the org - Extent of dependency depends on: o 1.) importance of resource o 2.) alternative sources o 3.) reliability/volatility of resource flow - Orgs actively manage their critical resource dependencies - E.g., board interlocks (cooption), joint-ventures, partnerships, in-sourcing, revolving doors o Ppl say pattern of board interlocks not coincidence; saying firms using relations to configure their resource dependencies o In-sourcing: providing resource for yourself by contacting a supplier o Revolving doors: getting a flow of personnel in and out so there is flow of traffic between regulatory industries so you get that insider information. Organizational Interiors - Consider resource flows and dependencies within orgs - E.g., famous case of French cigarette factory and the maintenance workers o Randomly maintenance workers had a lot of power; when you have industry like cig factory, under these circumstances, key resources that they controlled was repairs (fixing machines etc), so they used that to parlay their power. - E.g., British Treasury during 1920s and 1930s o Bean counters/treasury controlled the beans
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(budgets) and other ppl's money o And controlled flows of personnel o Upshot of this: didn't work out well for Britain b/c power of treasury was able to keep England close to a balanced budget even tho deficit spending was favorable. Keynes could not stop the balanced- budget orthodoxy. Quasi-Resolution of Conflict
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This note was uploaded on 02/19/2012 for the course SOC 302 taught by Professor Stephenlevin during the Spring '08 term at Northwestern.

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NOTESFINAL - 5/6/08 AFTER THE MIDTERM Organizations as...

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