What is Organizational Politics?

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What is Organizational Politics?
Guido Maes, Consultant, Belgium

Organizational Politics involves those activities taken within organizations to acquire, develop, and use power or other resources to obtain one's preferred outcomes in a situation in which there is uncertainty or dissensus about choices.

Definition and Perceptions of Organizational Politics
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands
As defined by Mintzberg (1983), organizational politics means: "... individual or group behaviour that is informal, ostensibly parochial, typically divisive and above all, in the technical sense, illegitimate-sanctioned neither by formal authority, accepted ideology, nor certified expertise". Organizational politics can be seen as functional, which means it is seen as a necessary factor for efficient functioning of organizations. However, it can also be dysfunctional when people engage in politics in their own self-interest.

Perceptions of organizational politics are influenced by how individuals perceive others’ self-interested behavior such as manipulating policies in an organization. These are subjective perceptions that of course might differ in reality. Even though an individuals’ perception differs from reality, it is seen as reality by the individual and will therefore influence a person’s responses.

Organizational politics are often negatively interpreted. When politics are perceived as dysfunctional it means a very negative view on organizational policies within a company, which is likely to be source of potential for stress. Rashid et al. (2013) argue that the perception of dysfunctional organizational politics increases job stress. Such negative perceptions about policies in organizations will grow over time because politics is a continuous activity.

The stress that results from negative perceptions on politics in organizations will eventually lead to one of the 2 following typical responses by employees:
1. Flight response. These people feel they can not handle the unfair and unjustified policies. Besides they know there are job opportunities elsewhere. Such employees are likely to quit their jobs.
2. Stay. These people are also unable to cope with the policies, but they will stay because of limited job opportunities elsewhere. Such people are exposed to a growing risk of stress, because of the fact that they are not able to deal with their political environment.

Ferris, G.R., D.D. Frink, D.P.S. Bhawuk, J. Zhou and D.C. Glmore (1996) “Reactions of diverse groups to politics in the workplace” Journal of Management Vol. 22 pp 23-44
Rashid, U. Karim, N. Rashid, S. and A. Usman (2013) “Employee’s Perception of Organizational Politics and its Relationship with Stress” Asian Journal of Business Management Vol 4 Iss 5 pp 348-352
Mintzberg, H. (1983) “Power in and Around Organizations” Prentice-Hall Englewood Cliffs NJ.

Organizational Politics
Raja Rayshouny, Director, Lebanon
I never thought the time will come and write about office or organizational politics, but it seems there's always an exception to have a change of mind. Organizational politics can be described in two easy ways:

A. Politics for the benefit of the organization, where the vision and goal are mutual, how to create the required growth and success?

B. Politics for the mere benefit of a single individual or a group of individuals, where their interest is only personal gain. Access to either tangible assets, and intangible benefits that range from position and influential authority, clearly not to the benefit of the organization.

The latter part of office politics and by-all-means, is a destructive method unfortunately practiced by anyone who is after the one and only "Personal Gain & Growth", rather than organizational gain. Such practice can harm the structure of any organization, demolishing the foundation it was was built on, and leads to a corrupted environment.

Ethical behavior toward organizational politics can only be practiced if self integrity exists. Individual benefits and gains must be eliminated in every form possible, by creating the proper field and landscape, where organizational benefits and gains are the only acceptable method of practice, and it will be the only code of conduct tolerated.

Office politics if played for the organization gain, it is called a sound strategy, but when it used for personal interest it is called taking an advantage at the expense of the company you are working for, and the trust they have placed in you. This is called dirty and filthy office politics promoting own interest, damaging the work environment and the stakeholders interest in general.

To shed some further light on individual and group organizational politics and they way it is practiced, some call it "I will scratch your back if you scratch mine", by manipulating information, blaming others for something that is not their responsibility to begin with.

Unethical behavior is a translation of individual and personal gain, and self integrity is a translation of organizational gain where everyone works for the same cause and goal, focusing on the interest of the business, rather than on one or a group of individuals.

The culture being built should be an ethical culture filled with integrity, loyalty and respect, paving the road to proper behavioral practices, and leading to the sound organization you have set your vision on, and your aim as the ideal business.

Organizational politics shall and must be built on one vision "One Alliance, One Goal" solely for the benefit of the organization, and no one else. Once this is done everyone will gain.

A business that enforces organizational politics as one, monitors and eliminates the individual benefits in all of its forms and shapes, would have opened the path to create a culture of a cooperative atmosphere with one mutual goal in mind, growth and success.
Office politics is also a combination of many decisive factors, to name just a few:
A. How can one differentiate between what is right and what is wrong?
B. Who has the respect of others?
C. Who can monitor and observe, and take the right proper decisions?
D. Who can communicate and engage others?
E. Who can inspire, lead and mentor others?
F. Who can build solid interpersonal relationships, based on trust, understanding and respect?

All of these decisive factors will enable you to take your business forward to the next level and to further achievements.



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