Power and Politics in Organizations

It is necessary to start with a point that both politics and power strongly affects the performance and structure of each organization meaning that they are the key elements in strategy choosing, objectives setting and values determining. Different attitudes and ideas towards power and politics exist, though no common conclusion is provided. Apparently, politics and power are able to affect work attitudes (powerful leaders), motivation (hard work), communication process and, finally, retention.

Nevertheless, it is strongly argued that politics impacts power and determines organizational course. (Power & Politics 1998) Before contrasting and comparing power and politics it is necessary to define the terms. Actually, power is “interpersonal relationship in which one individual can cause another individual to take an action that she (or it) would not otherwise take”. (Power & Politics 1998) Therefore, power involves using actual implied force and may be characterized by changing behavior.

Also power is known as informal authority being an ability “to secure compliance from another person or group”. For example, a person uses power when asking a secretary to correct your personal errors and thus as far as you are in position of power a secretary will obey inappropriate request. Comparing with power, definition of politics is vaguer. Politics can be defined as “activities taken within organizations to acquire, develop, and use power and other resources to obtain one’s preferred outcome in a situation where there is uncertainty of outcome”. Power ; Politics 1998)

Thus it is apparent that politics affect power as the later is its inevitable constituent. Simply saying, power is a force of political influence being only efficient tool of organizational politics, whereas politics involves activities “behaviors through which power is developed and used in organizational settings”. Together power and politics are used to overcome the opposition and to achieve desired outcomes. For example, if no opposition involve, political power isn’t necessarily involved.

It is necessary to admit that organizational politics is a fact of life and, for example, personal experiences prove the idea that general behavior in organizations is of political nature. (Ferris ; Kacmar1992) It is a well-known fact that politics impact organizational power determining its nature. For example, reward power means that more powerful person has power over another person because the later has something needed by a powerful one. Reward power aims at pay raise, promotional opportunities, desirable assignment, more responsibility and providing new equipment.

Then if someone opposes organizational politics, it may lead to introducing punishment or coercive power used to administer some form of necessary punishment. Coercive power doesn’t suggest physical strength rather than verbal facility, penalties or fines, ability withhold emotional support or ability to humiliate. Thus the examples of coercive power are demoting, firing, stripping of perquisites and transferring to an undesirable job. In contrast to power, politics is able to ensure “good citizenship”. (Power ; Politics 1998) Despite apparent differences, similar aims are found among power and politics.

For example, both of them aim at ensuring stable economic growth and development of organization, ensuring safer environment for company, fulfilling objectives, setting values. However, power is dependent from politics, whereas politics not. For example, power means the ability to get early information about policy changes, gaining quick access to top manager, approving budget expenditures. In its turn, politics has more advantages and authorities than power does. Summing up the material provided it is necessary to note that organizational politics meaning using power with the purpose to achieve desired outcomes. (Power ; Politics 1998)