Politics > Determining Political Choice > Applications > Politics in Organizations

Politics in Organizations

Competitiveness & Ambition

Problems labelled «political» emerge in any large social body. So they are typically found in firms and government agencies. Closed

Organizational life differs from ordinary communal life, because work reveals differential benefits. Relevant factors include:

As a result, all of human experience and frailty can manifest at work, and often does. Organizations develop a fertile froth of struggling groups—cliques, cabals, circles, factions—within which ambition, mistakes, humiliation, arrogance, superiority, inferiority, loyalty and solidarity are rife.  This must be handled positively and pro-actively.

ClosedCf. Management Literature

Firms are Quasi-Communities

Staff form a quasi-community once a firm reaches a certain size and complexity, and politics becomes unavoidable. In small firms ...Closed sub-grouping can be minimal and staff may feel unified, but even here power differentials are liable to be applied.

Staff members (as individuals) have personal goals and social needs that they must gratify at work to some degree to be maximally productive; and there is a variety of distinct sub-groups that must cohere and cooperate to realize organizational goals. In political terms, the sub-groups become factions.

As a result, power struggles develop amongst sub-groups and ambitious individuals i.e. individuals count in organizations while in society, they do not.

Tension Adjustment

The dynamic duality to energize the various Centres changes from social v private to:

Organizational = official, institutional, authoritative, managerial, bureaucratic.
Personal = private, professional, emergent, creative, motivated.

The Organizational Centre necessarily dominates at CL5 & CL6. However, the Personal Centre necessarily dominates at CL3, because a person may be dismissed, possibly unfairly or arbitrarily, or the company may collapse.

When a person leaves, attention and energy previously given to CL3O-formal responsibilities will be of little avail. A person must of necessity fall back on their own resources. If personal strength has been systematically neglected, the situation could become serious and damaging for the individual.

Focus Adjustment

The target of politics in an organization is any decision made by management. So «Management Decisions» replaces Government Solutions as the focus. In political battles, the goal is to ensure that any management choice favours (or at least does not disadvantage) the interests of a particular individual or faction. This goal naturally conflicts with thoughtfully determined choices to meet organizational goals.

Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 12 June 2014.

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
All Rights Reserved.

comments powered by Disqus