An organization is a group of people who work together with coordinated efforts to achieve certain objectives or goals. Organizational goals and objectives are of various categories and it is this variation of the goals and objectives which classify organizations into three main categories namely profit making; service based and social responsibility based organizations (Murray, Poole, and Jones, 2006. pp.45-69).
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Organizational culture refers to shared beliefs, values, norms and practices which characterize an organization. Organizational culture is a very important aspect in any organization which aspires to realize its vision through the mission (Murray, et al, 2006. pp.45-69).
There are various models of organizational culture. One such model is the power culture, which is characterized by centralization of power to some few people within the organization. These people are usually very influential in organizations and therefore everybody else tends to foster a good relationship with them. In this culture, employees are motivated to the degrees into which they emulate those persons in positions of power.
According to Morgan, organizations are composed of people of varied personal interests, tasks and careers (Morgan, 1998). It is on these grounds that Morgan describes organizations as political entities.
On his part, Pfeffer defines organizational politics as ‘those activities carried out by people to acquire, enhance, and use power and other resources to obtain their preferred outcomes in a situation where there is uncertainty or disagreement” (Pfeffer, 1981.p.4).
As per this definition therefore, organizational politics implies the use of organizational power and culture to make certain decisions in regard to key organizational issues with a view of promoting both organizational agenda as well as personal agenda.
Power and politics in organizations are therefore intertwined because whoever who makes decisions must hold or occupy a position of power in the organization concerned. This makes the study of organizational politics complicated because it presents varied vested interests, which are usually not easily visible, but are integrated with personal interests.
Organizational politics is not an issue which can be easily understood because for one to know or understand the politics, he or she has to be acquainted with the organizational functions, procedures, processes and its mission and vision.
One issue which is linked to organizational politics is the issue of promotion and demotion of employees. Some managers may abuse their positions of power in the promotion or demotion of employees by promoting employees who are loyal to them or those who are ‘user friendly’ and demoting those who are not ‘user friendly’.
They do this in order to have an opportunity to continue pushing for their selfish interests as they discharge the duties in the organizations.
Another example of organizational politics in work is the issue of employee transfer and reshuffling. Managers in organizations can use their positions of power to transfer to hardship areas employees whom they perceive or stumbling blocks in the pursuit of selfish interests.
Organizational politics can also feature in policy formulation and implementation. Managers may influence the direction of organizational policies so as to produce some desired outcomes, which are of interest to them. A good example is a policy on tendering for the supply of certain goods or services to an organization.
Managers may push for the change of policy to allow for organizational staff to be allowed to apply for such tenders in order for them to get the opportunity supply such goods or services.
Politics and power are also related to organizational leadership. Their relationship comes in when it comes to the issue of determining who becomes the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the managing director through lobbying those who are in charge of the appointments (the board of directors) for support.
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Politics are also used in determining who heads key organizational departments such as finance and administration. The department of fiancé for example is very crucial because it determines the allocation of organizational resources and the areas of priority in the allocations.
Morgan, G. (1998). Images of organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Murray, P., Poole, D., and Jones, G. (2006).Contemporary issues in management and organizational behavior. Farmington Hills, MI: Cengage Learning. pp.45-69.
Pfeffer, J. (1981). Power in organizations. Marshfield, MA: Pitman. p.4.