MGT/307 Week 5 Power and Politics Paper

Document Sample
MGT/307 Week 5 Power and Politics Paper Powered By Docstoc
					                        Power and Politics 1

 Power and Politics


University of Phoenix
                                                                         Power and Politics 2

                                     Power and Politics

        In almost every situation, power and politics exist. It may not be as noticeable as

it is in the workplace, but it still exists even in our personal relationships, in academes, in

televisions, and in every sports game. This is so because in a group, there will always be

that person who will assert authority, or at times appointed with the authority to dominate

the decision making-process, which is already politics. When one has the right or

assumes the right to dominate, then he or she naturally has power. The existence and

level of power and politics in a team can be easily seen based on how interconnected

every individual is with each other (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008). Ideally,

people that belong to a group should strive for their own goals while considering the

needs and goals of others, as well. With this, this paper will explore the role of politics in


                                     Power Vs. Politics

        If we base it on the context of organizational behavior, a person with power is

someone who has the ability and control to instruct other people to do something.

Powerful people are also in charge of directing the organization (Schermerhorn, Hunt, &

Osborn, 2008). The effect of the power of a certain person is referred to as influence, and

it will be depicted in the response and behavior of the subordinates due to the power of

another person. With this, in the organizational level, power is simply the direct or indirect

control over other people’s behavior (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008). Managerial

power is a combination of two kinds of power such as positional and personal. Positional

power has many forms, and it is technically something that is legally given to a person.

Forms of positional power are information power, legitimate power, process power,
                                                                         Power and Politics 3

representative power, and reward or coercive power. A manager has the right to direct or

control people due to legitimate power or simply because of the position that he or she has

in the organization. On the other hand, a manager may also use incentives or rewards in

order to gain control over people. Punishments are also sometimes used by managers.

There are not many examples that can be used in the rest of the positional forms, but the

main point is each of these powers are gained through the official position that a person

holds in an organization for a certain period of time. Personal power is mainly intricate,

and is not associated at all with the official position of the person in an organization.

Charisma is one famous form of personal power, moreover, referent power, expert power,

rational power, and coalition power. Based on the expert power and rational power, we

can easily have an idea what personal power is really all about. It is mainly about the skill

and credibility of a person, which are also powerful in influencing people. Specifically,

expert power refers to a leader’s unique skills, knowledge, and experiences, thus people

feel more compelled to believe and follow them. On the other hand, having rational power

means being persuasive and organized enough to encourage other people to follow and

achieve shared goals (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008). Unfortunately, it is from this

very nature of power and politics that some disadvantages and abuses happen such as

favouritism, bribery, illicit deals, and unnecessary personal dealings (Schermerhorn, Hunt,

& Osborn, 2008). Politics and power do not always exist for this sort of results, though.

Given a healthier and noble perspective, these two can further boost the performance of an


        There are two forms of politics that exist in an organization. One is centralized,

which means it revolves around the self-interest of anyone who is in power. The next one
                                                                         Power and Politics 4

is the non-sanctioned means, which technically happens when the management of an

organization derives a certain result that is not included in the policies of the organization

(Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008). To illustrate this further, the case of Enron can be

best used. The CEOs of this company resorted to creative accounting, so that their

subsidiary losses could not be seen in the reports. The stakeholders and the public would

not have a way of knowing that Enron is not doing well. Moreover, the CEO utilized both

personal and positional power to influence employees to buy company stocks, which

means the prices will raise, and the company will seem to have strong image. Eventually,

the fallacy was revealed, and the CEOs had to sell all their remaining stocks, which means

all the investments of their stakeholders were wasted. In a general societal situation,

politics also exist because of the differences between people. Everyone lives for different

reasons, and naturally, each person will strive hard to achieve their goals in the society.

Thus, organizational politics is simply a small society that uses power and politics to

arrive at its desired end.

                                Power and Political Strategies

        Given the fact that power and politics have different forms, managers will

definitely have a lot of options on how they create positive changes in the organization.

Before doing anything, the managers should first recognize the fact that most of the

employees will be resistant to change, and gaining their cooperation along the process

can be the major challenge. By keeping this in mind, the managers can device a better

and more influential strategy that is geared towards gaining the support of the rest of the

organizational members. A combination that can possibly work wonders is the rational

persuasion, force-coercion, and shared-power strategy. With this, people will be more
                                                                          Power and Politics 5

motivated to cooperate because of the rewards at hand, or they might also be afraid of the

possible consequences of not complying. However, this case cannot guarantee long-term

compliance because, in the first place, people cooperated because of the short-term

benefits. Once those benefits or threats run out, things can still go back to being

complicated. This strategy is only healthy when the compliance of the people is also out

of their own interest, aside from the rewards involved. With rational persuasion, the

manager can clearly lay out the direction of the company once all those changes are laid

out. This will best work for people who are also rational enough and those who truly

understand the reasons behind the decisions. Finally, people who will be greatly affected

by the company changes will be the top priority of shared-power strategy, and this will

involve the use of referent power. This means that the manager considers the personal

preferences of the people, but on the other hand the manager would also provide his or

her own input regarding the changes. Among the three strategies, the later would result to

better and longer effects, if properly implemented (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn,


         Unlike the usual beliefs, organizational politics have its good side as well. In fact,

it is one of the most evident aspects in an organization that is currently undergoing

changes or challenges. On the other hand, acquiring power is generally acceptable

especially when the person really has strong desires to create changes in an organization.
                                                                    Power and Politics 6


Schermerhorn, J., Hunt, J., & Osborn, R., (2008). Organizational Behavior (10th ed.).

    Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Shared By: