We individuals act in the world on the basis of our experiences. Our actions are very dependent on our meanings, interpretations and aims. What we do in the world depends on how we understand our place in it, depends on how we perceive ourselves and our social and physical environment, it depends on how we perceive our circumstances.
Within an organisation, job roles are given. This is to determine their importance and power as a staff; some may have important job roles which may and most of the times include having a lot of power, others maybe seen as ‘lower class’. This may affect our behaviour within the organisation.
Individuals and social entities behave so as to cope with their environment so that they can be satisfied; this enables them to reach their goals. Therefore, patterns of behaviour are developed which differs between each person. This is known as ‘Organisational Behaviour’. The study of Organisational behaviour is a systematic attempt to understand the behaviour of people in organisations” (Dubrin, 1978). It is the study of the structure, functioning and performances of organisations, and the behaviour of groups and individuals within them.
Each individual behaviour is unique according to Coffey, Athos and Raynolds 1975. “It has a personality or character of its own, just as do human beings”. Personality is something which is internal to the individual and manifests itself outwardly through behaviour.
There are three important influences for behaviour in organisations they are: the environment in which the organisation is located, technology as the employees will need tot have the appropriate skills and knowledge to do the various kinds of work required and finally, the types of customers served.
These influence has an effect towards attitude, aspiration and values, which stems from family, education, work, religious and socio-economic background and experience. They all combine in particular settings to say something about the employee’s status in the organisation. They may also suggest something about the individuals personality. Ethnicity is another important variable. People have different personal backgrounds, and the ethnic origins are often important in the way organisations function.
Parties within an organisation and society may wish to act differently due to many reasons; Nature and Nurture- we may or may not develop the character traits of politics. The second reason may be due to different expectations- we are each rose differently and therefore, expect different things from ourselves and those around us. The final reason is due to us having different goals- this way we work for different outcomes of our lives.
However, having different behaviour patterns can lead to conflicts within an organisation. Conflict is useful for studying complex situations and human behaviour. It has been used by sociologists to explain changes in societies. Within an organisation, conflicts can occur between individual groups and department; they can arise from the exercise of power and politics. It stems from particular leadership styles and decision-making processes. They can also arise form structural and cultural changes.
Conflicts can cause stress at work. Stress is caused as a “result of the interaction between the demands of the situation and the individual’s ability to meet those demands”. (Chell, E, 1987, chapter 1).
“Organisations have a political dimension as well as a social, technical, economic and cultural one” (Buchanan and Huczinski, 2001, chapter 24). Power and politics are extremely entwined, affecting human behaviour in organisations. Power concerns the capacity of individuals to exert their will over others whereas political behaviour is the practical domain of power in action.
“Politics is about overcoming the problem of resolving situations where different organisation members bring different values to their work, and consequently do not share common goals or views yet, have to continue to work with one another”. (Kakabadse, 1983, chapter 24).
They may disagree and fight for what they believe even though they share the same aims about the company’s objectives.
“Politics, in short, is seen as s dirty world”. (Morgan, G, 1997, chapter 6). The idea of politics stems from the diverse of interests the society should find a way to get around it or negotiate. Within an organisation, conflict and power sometimes occupy the centre stage of politics; it provides a diversion in the flow of organisation activity. “Politics occur on an on-going basis”. (Morgan, G, 1997, chapter 6).
The idea of politics stems from the view that where interests are divergent, society should provide a means of allowing individuals to reconcile their differences through consultation and negotiation, (Morgan, G, 1997). Social relations can be seen as political though our laws, government and system of rewards and benefits.
However, politics in organisations refers to those activities undertaken within an organisation to acquire, develop and use power and other resources to obtain ones preferred outcomes in a situation in which there is uncertainty or an absence of consensus about choices.
The political model of organisation is distorted goals. In other words, different priorities and interests. Within an organisation, different people have different interests and priorities that may change and which may be placed ahead of those of the company as a whole.
According to Huczynsky and Buchanan, the political model of an organisation is a perspective that holds which is made up of groups that have separate interests, goals and values, and in which power and influence are needed to reach decisions. Within the political model of an organisation, there are many unclear goals.
Politics emerge in many different ways by an individual. This is known as political behaviour, it is a personality trait. They emerge because it is in peoples personalities that: they want power, want to be seen as successful, wish to ‘stay clean’, have lots of friends and keep the advantage from the competition.
Many people within an organisation life know they are surrounded by organisational politics however; they rarely come out and say so. They may discuss it with a close colleague however, not to the rival. Politics is a reality and is an inevitable feature of organisational life.
When an individual understands organisations as political systems, their behaviour immediately changes to become more political in relation to what we see. We begin to identify politics everywhere and to look for hidden agendas even where there is not.
According to Tom Burns, a Scottish Sociologist, he points out that most modern organisations actually encourage organisational politics. This is because they are designed as a system of simultaneous competition and collaboration. The conflicting dimensions of organisational stems from the fact that there are more jobs at the bottom of the hierarchical chart then the top. This leads to competition for the top places where there is likely to be “far fewer winners than losers”.
Organisational politics can be analysed systematically by focussing on relations between interests, conflict and power, organisational politics arise when people think differently and want to act differently. This diversity creates tension that must be resolved through political means. This can be done automatically, bureaucratically, technoeratically or ordemocratically. Only one technique can be chosen depending on the power relations between the actors involved.
When talking about interests, this means an individual goal, value, desire, expectation and other orientations and indications that may lead to them to act in one way rather then another. One way to define and analyse defence of interest is to understand ones task career and personal life. The 3 domains can interact and also remain separate. This causes the tension that creates the centre of political activity relationship that often occurs in organisations. To avoid this, most organisations try to balance the 3 sets of interests.
People have different interests because they themselves are different. The tensions vary from situation to situation producing a great variety in styles of behaviour.
According to a case study taken from “Images of Organisation” (1997), Mr X was the president of a marketing company. “His marketing philosophy and vision were in keeping with his personality, reflecting an interest and involvement with the social elites with whom he felt at home”. Many of his colleagues were a reflection of his personal lifecycle of who share family connections. They accepted his ways of marketing however, those colleagues who were less well connected felt that many opportunities were being lost.
This shows that his personality allowed him to use the organisation to express himself through a strategy that combined task, career and personal life in a coherent way. The colleagues that agreed to the strategy did so to the extent that their aims were achieved as well. Those opposed to the strategy had other aspirations. They wanted to see the organisation go elsewhere.
“Conflict arises whenever interests collide” (Morgan, G, 1997). The reaction to a conflict within an organisation can lead to some regretful circumstances. “It’s a personality problem”, “They’re rivals who always meet head on”, “Production people and marketing people never get on”, “Everyone hates auditors and accountants”( organ, G, 1997). Conflict is regarded as an unfortunate state that in more favourable circumstances would disappear to.
Conflicts always arise in organisations. They may be personal, interpersonal, or between rivals, groups or coalitions. It may be built into organisational structures, roles, attitudes and stereotypes.
Although people are aware of the importance of working together, the job is often combines with various kinds of role conflict. Sometimes, the conflicts generated are open for all to see.
According to Morgan, G (1997) “Power is the medium through which conflicts of interest are ultimately resolved”. Power influences who gets what, when and how. Some view power as a resource, whilst others view it as a social reaction characterised by some kind of dependency.
An American political Scientist Robert Dalh suggests, “Power involved an ability to get another person to do something that he or she would not otherwise have done”. This statement appears to be true, considering the fact that within an organisation; a higher status staff can boss around an employee who has a lower status than another. This however, may lead to conflict.
The model of interests, conflict and power provides an understanding of the relationship between politics and organisation.
The idea of organisational politics, conflict, organisational behaviour and the political model is that they all combine and relate to one another. All organisations have these same issues, they may be aware of them or they may not. We have discovered that when at work, we act differently then we do at home. We have also realised that people at work who have higher status then ourselves boss us around.
Morgan, G, 1997. Images of Organisation.s.I.: Sage Publication.
Chell, E, 1997. The Psychology Of Behaviour In Organisations. University of Salford: Macmillan Press.
Coffey, R., Athos, A., Raynolds, P.,1975. Behaviour In Organisation: A Multidimensional View. 2ND ed. UK: Prentice Hall International.
Buchanan, D., Huczynski, A,. 2000. Organisation Behaviour. 3rd ed. UK: Prentice Hall International.
Dubrin, A, 1978. Fundamentals Of Organisational Behaviour: An Applied Perspective. 2nd ed. Pwegamon.
Pugh, D, 1997. Organisation Theory: Selected Readings. 4th ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Buchanan, D., Huchzynski, A., 2002. Organisational Behaviour: An Introductory Text. 4th ed. England: Prentice Hall.
Monica Navsaria Seminar Group 23