The Political Frame Chapter 9 Power, Conflict, and Coalition
Politics in Organizations • Leaders are naieve and romantic if they hope to eliminate politics in organizations. • The must understand and learn how to manage political processes.
Key Terms in Context of Text • Authorities - Those who are entitled to make decisions binding on others and who control the social system • Partisans – Those who cannot exert control in a social system; try to change the system by exerting bottom-up influence; agents or initiators of influence ; recipients of social control • Overbounded System – A system wherein power is highly concentrated and everything is tightly regulated
Key Terms • Horizontal Conflict – occurs at interfaces between departments or divisions. • Vertical Conflict – occurs at interfaces between levels of the organization. • Cultural Conflict – occurs at interfaces between groups with different values, traditions, beliefs, and lifestyles
Political View • Does not blame individuals or personal characteristics, i.e. selfishness, myopia, incompetence • Blames political behaviors, spawned by interdependence, divergent interests, scarcity, and power relations • Political processes are universal • Political processes won’t go away • Political processes must be understood and managed
Political Assumptions • Organizations are coalitions of diverse individuals and groups • Coalition members differ in terms of values, beliefs, information, interests, and perceptions of reality • Important decisions are about allocating scarce resources
Political Assumptions • Scarce resources and enduring differences make conflict central to organizational dynamics and underline power as the most important asset • Goals and decisions emerge from bargaining, negotiation, and jockeying for powition among competing stakeholders
Traditional Organizations • Guided by goals and policies set at the top
Challenger Case Analysis • Where were goals set in the Challenger case? • What coalitions were involved in the Challenger case? • What were the perspectives from which these coalitions viewed the launch?
Scarce Resources -- ALWAYS • Politics will be more salient and intense during difficult times • Economic and demographic trends • Power is who, where, how “someone” gets things done • Goals are established through iterative interactions among key players
China • What was the goal of the Chinese government? • Why was “the rest of the world” reluctant to let China in? • What was China’s position? • What was the outcome?
Organizations • Pyramids or coalitions? • What impact does the view make? • Wages – “costs” • Dividend payments “profits” • What happens, particular in public organizations that makes many goals conflicting? (Air France)
Roots of Political Frame • An organization is not a “person” • No singular goal • Relational concepts • Quasi-resolution – break problems into pieces and “farm out” to keep functional • Uncertainty avoidance – SOPs to simplify • Problemistic search – “find” first available solution • Organizational Learning – evolve, adapt goals • Cyert and March (1963) “A Behavioral Theory of the Firm”
Power and Decision Making • Political frame views authority as only one among many forms of power. • Sources of power • Position • Information, expertise • Reward • Coercive • Alliances and networks • Agendas • Framing: control of meaning and symbols • Personal
Distribution of Power • Overbounded – Highly concentrated and tightly regulated • Political activity often forced underground • Underbounded Systems – Diffuse power, loosely controlled
Conflict in Organizations • Scarce resources • Divergent interests • Conflict undermines effectiveness • Not necessarily a problem
Benefits of Conflict in Organizations • Challenges status quo • Stimulates interest and curiosity • Roots of personal and social change, creativity, innovation • Encourages new ideas and approaches to problems
Politics of Getting AheadOrganizations as Jungles • Not room for everyone at the top • Strong devour the weak • Moral mazes • Did Thiokol engineers deserve praise for persistence and integrity? • Or reprimands for failure to stop launch?
Jungles • How does one balance getting ahead with credibility? • Is there such a thing as productive politics? • Legitimate power leaders have position power but must compete for other forms • What is the Biblical view of power and “competitiveness”? • What is required of leaders?