ORGANIZATIONAL POLITICS: Definition, Examples, Benefits & Strategies

Organizational Politics
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Organizational or workplace politics refers to the use of power and influence within an organization to gain advantages and advance personal or group interests, often at the expense of others. Building alliances, competing for resources, manipulating information, and using formal and informal networks to gain power and influence are all examples of these political activities. Organizational politics can have both positive and negative effects on an organization. On the plus side, getting involved in politics can make it easier to make decisions, help people and groups reach their goals, and encourage creativity and new ideas. On the other hand, political behavior can cause conflict and mistrust, stop people from working together, and make the workplace a bad place to be. Interestingly, it’s a good tool when effectively utilized. Let’s take a look at its importance, its effectiveness in the workplace, and some examples of organizational politics.

Understanding Organizational Politics

Organizational politics, often known as workplace politics, refers to each employee’s agenda and actions to earn, increase, and use authority and resources to achieve a goal.

Leaders need to understand the informal power structures in their organization and come up with ways to deal with competing interests and priorities to handle organizational politics well. This could mean making clear policies and procedures, encouraging openness and transparency, promoting ethical behavior, and giving employees a chance to say what they think and how they feel. Ultimately, a healthy organizational culture is key to minimizing the negative effects of organizational politics and promoting a positive and productive work environment

What Is the Impact of Organizational Politics?

Even though organizational politics is often thought to have bad effects, it can also have good ones. Here are some examples of the positive effects of organizational politics:

#1. Innovation and Creativity

Political behavior can lead to new ideas and creative solutions to problems. When people compete for resources or power, they may come up with new ideas or ways of doing things that can help the organization.

#2. Flexibility and Adaptation

The way people act in politics can help organizations be more adaptable and flexible when things change. When people use politics to try to influence decisions, they may help the organization be more responsive to outside factors and better able to change with the times.

#3. Improved Decision-making

Political behavior can lead to better decision-making by bringing diverse perspectives and opinions to the table. When people act politically, they may speak up for different points of view, which can lead to more robust conversations and, in the end, better decisions.

#4. More Accountability

The way politicians act can make them more accountable by shedding light on how decisions are made and revealing any possible biases or conflicts. When people act politically, they may question the status quo and hold others responsible for what they do.

What Are the 6 Types of Organizational Politics?

There are many different types of organizational politics, and they can manifest in a variety of ways. Here are six common types:

#1. Coalition Building

This type of politics involves forming alliances or coalitions to gain power and influence. Those who are skilled in coalition building can leverage their alliances to achieve their goals and influence decision-making.

#2. Withholding Information

In this kind of politics, people do this on purpose to gain an advantage or keep control. Those who know how to keep information from others may be able to use it to change how others make decisions or control them.

#3. Scapegoating

Scapegoating involves blaming others for problems or failures to deflect attention from oneself. Those who engage in scapegoating may use it to protect their reputation or advance their interests.

#4. Power Struggles

Power struggles happen when people or groups in an organization compete for power and influence. Those who are skilled in power struggles can use their influence to gain control or disrupt the influence of others.

#5. Favoritism

This type of politics involves showing favoritism to certain individuals or groups. Those who engage in favoritism may use it to reward loyalty or advance their interests.

#6. Ambiguity Manipulation

Ambiguity manipulation is the act of making confusion or ambiguity on purpose to get an advantage or keep control. Those who are good at manipulating ambiguity can use it to trick others or change their decisions.

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What Are the Four Types of Organizational Politics?

The following are the four common types of organizational politics:

#1. Self-serving Behavior

This type of politics involves individuals who act in their self-interest, often at the expense of others or the organization as a whole. They may use power and influence to secure resources, promotions, or recognition without regard for others’ needs or the organization’s goals.

#2. Information Manipulation

This type of politics involves individuals who manipulate information or withhold information to gain an advantage. They may distort facts or exaggerate the importance of information to influence decision-making.

#3. Coalition Formation

This type of politics involves individuals who form coalitions or alliances to gain power and influence within the organization. They may form groups based on shared interests, goals, or values to achieve their objectives.

#4. Structural Behavior

This type of politics involves individuals who use the formal structure of the organization to gain power and influence. They may use their position or power in the hierarchy to make decisions, get access to resources, or change the way things turn out.

By knowing about these types of organizational politics, people will be better able to spot and deal with them in their workplaces. It can also help them develop strategies to address or manage political behavior to achieve their goals and promote the organization’s objectives

What Are the Factors That Contribute to Organizational Politics?

  • Scarce Resources
  • Ambiguous Goals or Roles
  • Power Imbalances
  • Organizational Culture
  • Leadership Style

What Are the Causes of Organizational Politics?

A variety of factors can contribute to organizational politics. Here are some of the most common causes:

#1. Scarcity of Resources

When resources like money, staff, or other assets are limited, people and departments may have to compete to get what they need. This competition can lead to political behavior such as forming alliances or withholding information.

#2. Ambiguity in Goals and Roles

When goals and roles are unclear or not clear, people may act politically to get clarity or change what happens. Ambiguity can create confusion or conflict, which can lead to political behavior.

#3. Power Imbalances

When there are significant power imbalances within an organization, individuals with more power or influence may use that power to control decision-making or influence outcomes. Those with less power may engage in political behavior to gain power or counterbalance the power of others.

#4. Organizational Culture

The culture of an organization can also contribute to political behavior. Organizations that value competition, individual success, or secrecy may encourage people to act politically as they try to get ahead or protect their interests.

#5. Leadership Style

The leadership style of those in charge can also contribute to organizational politics. Leaders who wield power and authority to exert control over decision-making, or who show favoritism, may foster a political environment.

#6. Personal Motives and Values

Organizational politics can also be affected by personal goals and values, such as the desire for power, recognition, or influence. People can act politically to achieve their own goals, even if it goes against what the organization is trying to do.

When people and organizations know what causes organizational politics, they can come up with ways to deal with or manage political behavior and bring about good results.

Read Also: ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Goals, Benefits and Drawbacks

Organizational Politics Examples    

Here are a few examples of organizational politics:

#1. Resource Allocation

Teams or people who are competing for resources like budgets, equipment, or office space may act in a political way to change how decisions are made. For example, they might try to build alliances, lobby key decision-makers, or discredit their competitors.

#2. Promotion and Career Advancement

When employees want to get promoted or move up in their careers, they may act in a political way to help their chances of success. This could include networking with influential colleagues, taking credit for other people’s work, or spreading rumors or gossip about competitors.

#3. Decision-making

In many organizations, decision-making processes can be influenced by politics. Individuals or groups with more power and influence may try to sway the decision-making process in their favor by manipulating information or influencing key decision-makers.

#4. Organizational Change

Politics can also affect organizational change projects like mergers, acquisitions, or reorganizations. Different groups may have different interests and priorities, leading to political maneuvering and resistance to change.

#5. Conflict Resolution

When people or groups in an organization are fighting with each other, political behavior can be used to try to solve the problem. This could include building alliances, using persuasion, or seeking the support of key decision-makers.

Positive Effects Of Organizational Politics

Organizational politics can have some positive effects, such as:

#1. Increased Innovation

When people and groups in an organization are free to say what they think and come up with new ideas, it can lead to more creativity and innovation. Political processes can help bring attention to new ideas and perspectives, which can lead to the development of new products, services, or processes.

#2. Improved Decision-making

Organizational politics can make the decision-making process stronger by bringing in different points of view, feedback, and input from different stakeholders. This can help people make better decisions that take into account a wider range of possible outcomes.

#3. Greater Collaboration and Teamwork

When individuals and groups are allowed to advocate for their interests, it can create a sense of healthy competition and collaboration that drives teams to work together more effectively towards common goals.

#4. Enhanced Employee Engagement

When employees are encouraged to take part in political processes, it can make them feel like they own the organization and care about what it does and where it goes. This can lead to greater job satisfaction and commitment to the organization.

#5. Increased Transparency

When political processes are well-managed and open, they can increase transparency and accountability within an organization. This can help to build trust among employees and stakeholders and improve overall organizational performance

Organizational Politics in the Workplace

Organizational politics refers to the use of power and influence within an organization to achieve goals, often through the formation of alliances and coalitions and the use of persuasion. Politics in the workplace can have both positive and negative effects on the organization and its employees.

Here are some common examples of organizational politics in the workplace:

#1. Forming Alliances

Individuals may form alliances with others who share their goals or interests, creating power bases that can influence decision-making.

People can form coalitions or interest groups to advocate for certain policies or programs within an organization.

#2. Lobbying

People can lobby or try to get other people to support their ideas or plans by using persuasion, negotiation, or force.

People can use their social networks and relationships to get information, resources, or chances that will help them reach their goals.

#3. Power Plays

People can use power plays to get ahead of others, such as by keeping information or resources to themselves.

Even though there will always be some organizational politics, organizations need to handle it in a good way. This can be achieved through clear communication, transparency, and fairness in decision-making processes. Organizations should also encourage collaboration and teamwork while discouraging behavior that undermines trust and cooperation among employees

Read Also: 360-DEGREE FEEDBACK: Definition and Ultimate Guide

Importance of Organizational Politics

Organizational politics can play an important role in the success of an organization, as it allows individuals to use power and influence to achieve their goals and advance the interests of the organization. However, organizations need to manage organizational politics in a way that is ethical and constructive and does not hurt employee morale, productivity, or organizational performance. This can be achieved through clear communication, transparency, and fairness in decision-making processes, and by encouraging collaboration and teamwork among employees. The following are some of the key importance of organizational politics;

#1. Decision-making

The first importance of organizational politics is decision-making. Organizational politics can help bring diverse perspectives and ideas to the decision-making process, which can result in more informed decisions and better outcomes for the organization.

#2. Innovation

Organizational politics can encourage innovation by allowing individuals to express their ideas and perspectives, which can lead to the development of new products, services, or processes.

#3. Conflict Resolution 

Organizational politics can help resolve conflicts within an organization by providing a platform for individuals to advocate for their interests and find common ground.

#4. Networking

Organizational politics can help people build relationships and networks within the organization, which can give them better access to information, resources, and opportunities.

#5. Career Advancement

Organizational politics can help individuals advance their careers by building alliances and coalitions, developing a reputation for being skilled negotiators or gaining visibility within the organization.


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