Power and politics are inextricably interwoven with the fabric of an organization’s life. In any organization, at any given moment, a number of people are seeking to gain and use power to achieve their own ends. This pursuit of power is political behavior. Organizational politics refers to the 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 uncertainly or disagreement. One great organizational scholar, Tushman defined politics, ‘as the structure and process of the use of authority and power to affect definition of goals, directions and the other major parameters of the organization. Decisions are not made in rational or formal way but rather through compromise accommodation and bargaining.

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Managing Political Behavior

The very nature of political behavior makes it difficult to manage or even approach in a rational and systematic manner. However a manager who understands why people use political behavior and the techniques people usually employ has the best chance to manage political behavior successfully.

People use political behavior in organizations in response to the five main factors:

  • Ambiguous goals
  • Scarce resources
  • Technology and the environment
  • Non-Programmed decisions
  • Organizational change
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