A. Definition of Organizational Politics When people gather in groups, strength will be given. People want to carve out niches to make an impact, get gifts, and advance their careers. This describes them as being involved in politics. Those with good political skills have the ability to use their power base effectively. There basically, this type of politics focuses on the use of force to influence decision making in an organization, or on self-interested and unapproved organizational behavior. For our purposes, political behavior in organizations consists of activities that are not needed as part of an individual's formal role but which influence, or seek to influence, the distribution of profits and losses within the organization. Political behavior is outside the specified job requirements. Some efforts are needed to use the power base. This includes efforts to influence the goals, criteria, or processes used for decision making. This definition is broad enough to cover a variety of political behavior such as withholding important information from decision makers, joining coalitions, whistleblowing, spreading rumors, leaking confidential information to the media, exchanging assistance with others in the organization for mutual benefit, and lobbying on behalf of or against certain individual or alternative decisions. B. Political Reality Interviews with experienced managers show that most believe political behavior is a major part of organizational life. Many managers report that the use of political behavior is ethical and necessary, as long as it does not directly harm others. They describe politics as a necessary crime and believe someone who has never used political behavior will have difficulty getting things done. Should politics exist? Is it not possible for an organization to be free from politics? That is possible - but impossible. This is because the organization consists of individuals and groups with different values, goals, and interests. This establishes potential conflicts regarding the allocation of limited resources, such as departmental budgets, space, project responsibilities, and salary adjustments. If resources are abundant, then all constituencies in the organization can fulfill their objectives. But because it is limited, everyone's interests cannot be fulfilled. Furthermore, profits by one individual or group are often considered to come at the expense of others in the organization (whether they exist or not). These forces create real competition among members for limited organizational resources. Maybe the most important factor leading to politics within organizations is the realization that most of the “facts” used to allocate the limited resources are open to interpretation.
C. Causes and Consequences of Political Behavior 1. Factors Contributing to Political Behavior Not all groups or organizations are equally political. In some organizations, for instance, politicking is overt and rampant, while in others politics plays a small role in influencing outcomes. Why this variation? Recent research and observation have identified a
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- Fall '20
- Political Philosophy, ethicality, F. Impression Management