Power and Politics in Organizations

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Organizational behavior is characterized as how employees of the same company communicate with one another and how this interaction influences how the organization operates. It investigates both individuals and organizations in order to construct a more productive organization. Human behavior influences how people communicate with one another, and has an effect on the organization's success both positively and negatively (Brass and David 355). It is also classified into three categories: the study of the person (micro-level), the study of workgroups within the organization (meso level), and the study of the entire organization (micro-level). Power, on the other hand, is described as having the opportunity to influence peoples’ behavior by getting them down to do something due to the authority confers to some individuals within the organization (Daft 12). Power in organization is also defined as the possession of higher authority that influences others in a working in the same firm

Organization politics is creating informal or unofficial efforts to sell ideas within the organization to influence, increase power or to achieve a given target. It is the diversity of interest of people within an organization. Organization power and politics go hand in hand and somehow, it influences the way people behave in such a firm. Group politics and power can be of benefit or disaster to the performance of the organization (Denhardt 16). If the power and politics are used to stir organization to the right direction by allowing positive criticism of those they control. It will be of great help to the performance of the firm, however, where power and politics oscillates around two or more camps that view each other as rivals, and then the power and politics in such organization can ruin its performance and lead to its failure.

This essay will discuss how to discuss organization behavior with regards to the power and politics displayed in a firm, the sources of these powers or types of powers will also be described and how they affect the performance of the business firms.

Sources of power in organization

In an organization, there exist about sources of power that authorities can exercise over the people they lead. These are legitimate power, expert power, reference power, and coercive power as well as reward power.

Legitimate power also referred to as positional power. It is the power someone assumes because of the position they have been given, or they have acquired in an organization’s hierarchy of authority. For examples, the chief executive officer of an organization has particular powers just because of the office they have in their corporation. This kind of power is based on the perception and reality (Gavetti et al .25)The perception upon which this power is based is the awareness of employees that a person holding such power in their place of work has control over their behavior or the power to control them. The reality, on the other hand, is that the holder of such office also holds a specific power in that organization. They practice this power according to bylaws that are outlined in the administration policies in an organization. This means there is a framework or structure to which this power can be exercised. Whatever the case, it must comply with the policies of the firm. The holder of legitimate power cannot exercise this power to fulfill their interests but instead ensure that the interest of the corporation is protected and the firm complies with all the regulations as required by the state or the international community.

Because of the authorities of the person holding the legitimate power, they can influence organization behavior in various ways. This person controls employees directly; they can bring them together and promote high standards of behavior in the firm. Also, they have the power to promote good working relationship by ensuring that all departments are the corporation with each other for the benefit of the firm (Robbins 17). However, if they do all this with a bad attitude towards their juniors, the organization will not have the smooth working relationship and thus would affect its performance. It is advisable for the leaders that possess the legitimate power to promote a good relationship and ethical standards that would make the firm to have a positive image out of its working or operating environment.

However, organization politics can also interfere with holders of such office and might make them not to work well as required by the rules of the firm. Different groups may be from shareholders can sponsor or influence people or employees within the organization to sabotage the work of those who have legitimate power with the intention of forcing them to cater for their interests. Also, they can be interfered with if they are not playing to the side of some outside forces. These forces would bring rebellion within the firm and have someone that also can serve their interest (Robbins 17). The outside forces can even be government officials, market players among others. But because they cannot remove them directly, they would sponsor rebellions or dirty politics within the organization to disrupt the person so as these officers can be seen in bad light.

Expert power

Expert power is the belief that the people that have a high rank in an organization also possess high knowledge or skills than any other person in the organization. Expert power is not limited to the formal or official function of the organization. The holders of this power have the ability to influence other employees in an organization by the skills or the knowledge that they have or that which others perceive them to be possessing. They command a lot of respect because of that and people listen to them and take their advice concerning some aspect of the organization seriously (Robbins 17). Lack of some skill makes other employees give leverage to these experts. For example, if there is only one engineer in an organization and they give a warning to management concerning a particular design or structure, this management group will have to believe the engineer because they have no skill or knowledge to challenge them. In this can experts can sue their power for their interest or that of the organization. In an organization, experts would give their opinion concerning various issues or operation of the firm. They will advice the executive management on what to do or say because it is believed they have higher knowledge in these areas. However, if they are involved in an organization power and politics struggle, it can be a disaster to the firm. They can play to the side of whoever pays them handsomely to influence opinion or perceptions of some leaders. This will influence the organization behavior in that, if they influence the perception of employees on various issues in the firm, these staffs will behave according to their opinion, and this can be a good thing or bad one on the operation of the firm. Expert power brings about the certain commitment that can be important or not to the organization.

Reference power

This is the power that a person have over the team in which they control or the group of followers. It is derived from the interpersonal relationship that certain employees cultivate with their colleagues. The holders of this power have great admiration and respect from the rest in such a way that they can influence their behavior. It arises from charisma and personal connections that some people have with top key people in the organization. It is the perception that the personal relationships these people have with leaders that generate their power over the rest (Brass and David 356). The people that pose reference power can be even supervisors or ordinary employees. In an organization, such power has the great impact on the behavior of employees as well as that of the whole organization. When organization politics play arises, such people will influence other employees to support however they like. They can be used to drive personal interest of people within the organization using organization politics. However, they can also use their influence to advocate for better pay, working condition or other interests that would benefit everyone in an organization.

Coercive power

Coercive powers are those powers that are used to influence others in an organization through threats. A senior officer in the organization may threaten a junior office of dire consequences such s loss of job, position, or deduction of salary if they do not do what such people wants. Due to these threats, employee, against his will, will have to perform certain duties or refrain from certain issues or else they will suffer consequences (Brass and David 355). Coercive power can be applied in an organization politics. Those who have a personal interest in an organization can use coercive power to influence others to play by their side.

Influencing others through threats is not good in an organization. It makes people act not because they are willing to take such actions, but because have been cornered to act that way. It is not the right power to be exercised in an organization that intends to prosper. Also, it can give organization negative image in the market.

Reward power

It is the power that arises from a person’s ability to force the administration to change their allocation of incentives such as salary increment, promotions, and even appraisals. The people with this kind of power influence the behavior of employees and organization as a whole. In organization politics, organization reward power can be used to influence opinions and perception of people with some interest in the firm(Brass and David 357). They can use such powers as a negotiating tool with employees to support their idea or interest or even to throw their support behind a certain leader with the promise that their incentives will be increased by a certain percentage. Those who want to drive certain interest in an organization by applying organization politics would use others that have reward power.

Organization behavior is influenced a lot of power and politics in such firm. Politics in a company is good and at the same time can cause a lot of problem to the organization. In politics play, those who have legitimate power are the most powerful in the organization because they have authority to hire or fire staffs. Their office should only serve the interest of the organization and employees as stated in the policy. However, the power these people can be pegged by the influence of others who hold power such as reward power (Brass and David 358). They power can be restrained by others who can influence and have the whole employees in their support against those who holds legitimate power. People who possess these powers tend to rub shoulders with the holders of legitimate powers with the aim of driving some given interest. They can also use these powers to turn the whole organization against the office of legitimate power holders and thus force them to quit their position.

In summary, organization behavior is more influenced by the organization power and politics. Employees’ behavior will be determined by the influence of the people in power and how they exercise these powers. If these powers are used positively, they can serve the organization well and stir it in the right direction that is required. However, there can be an abuse of these powers and can have a negative impact not only on the image of the organization but also the operation. Politics have destroyed many organizations, and there is a need for proper use of power and the right power not ones like coercive power.

Work Cited

Brass, Daniel J., and David M. Krackhardt. "Power, politics, and social networks in organizations." Politics in organizations: Theory and research considerations (2012): 355-375.

Daft, Richard. Organization theory and design. Nelson Education, 2012.

Denhardt, Robert B., Janet V. Denhardt, and Maria P. Aristigueta. Managing human behavior in public and nonprofit organizations. Sage Publications, 2012.

Gavetti, Giovanni, et al. "The behavioral theory of the firm: Assessment and prospects." The academy of management annals 6.1 (2012): 1-40.

Robbins, Stephen P., and Tim Judge. Essentials of organizational behavior. Essex: Pearson, 2012.

December 15, 2022



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