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Power and Politics

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Have you ever wondered what role politics and power play in organizations? When used effectively they can be compatible in reaching the organizations goals. Power is defined as the ability to get someone to do something you want done or the ability to make things happen in the way you want them. (Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn, Chap. 15). Power is important within organizations because it is the way in which management influences individuals to make things happen. When power and influence combine, most of the time "politics" become involved in some manner which may pose some problems. Organizational politics is best described as management influenced by self-interest through the use of means not necessarily authorized by the organization. Organizational politics have been viewed as an organizations enhancement tool to survive and fulfill goals. Power and Politics, though closely related, share similarities and differences but ultimately work together for the success of an organization.

Types of Power

There are two types of power that influence both individual and organizational behaviors. The first one, known as Position Power is widely used by the managers as a direct result of their position in the organization. There are six bases under position power in which the management uses to effectively motivate their employees. Reward power is probably the most successful in controlling employees. There are several types of rewards a manager can use to motivate success within individuals such as monetary, promotions, and compliments. The opposite, Coercive power can be seen as a punishment power.

The management can use this power to demote, transfer, fire or deny raises to their employees. The third power base of Position is legitimate power. This power stems from the level of hierarchy in which the subordinates report directly to the authority over them for decisions. Process Power controls the input and output of organizations to make sure that the processes are carried out efficiently and effectively within. Information power is the control of information or access to it within an organization. Information can be controlled to a "need to know" basis and/or just limited to the upper management. This type of power compliments the legitimate power. Finally, there is Representative power in which an organization uses an individual to be there spokesperson both within the organization and when dealing with people outside of the organization.

The second source of power that influences individuals and organizations behaviors is known as Personal Power. This power focuses more on the individual's independent nature within the position that he or she has been placed. There are three sources under this power that are apparent in most organizations that are well managed. The first is expert power in which control is based on the knowledge or experience that the individual possesses in the position that he or she holds. Rational persuasion is the power to control behavior by being able to show the desirable out comes through reasonable and acceptable means within an organization. With the diverse personalities within an organization it is essential to have management that is levelheaded and rational. The final basis of control within personal power is referent power. It is controlling an individual's behavior within an organization by allowing them to identify with the source of power that is over them.

Organizational Politics

The official definition of organizational politics is the use of power to



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