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ORGANIZATIONS AS

POLITICAL SYSTEM
From the book “Image of Organizations” 2nd Ed, 1997 by Gareth Morgan Professor of Organization
Studies; Distinguished Research Professor - York University, England

Jeliteng Pribadi (JP)


PhD Program in Management
I-Shou University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Outline
1. Introduction
– Politics and Political System
2. The Political Metaphor
3. Organization as System of Government
Autocracy VS Democracy
4. Organization as System of Political Activity
- Conflict, Power,
5. Strengths and Weaknesses
6. Conclusion
PoliticS?
• Greek: πολιτικα (Politika) "affairs of the
cities"  The process of making decisions that
apply to members of a group.

• “achieving and exercising positions of governance —


organized control over a human community,
particularly a state” (wikipedia)
Political System
• “Legitimate monopoly of physical coercion over
a given territory and population” (Almond,
1959)

• Politics is the study or practice of the


distribution of power and resources within a
given community (this is usually a hierarchically
organized population) as well as the
interrelationship(s) between communities.
Key Concepts
Strength &
Limitation

Org. as System The Org. as


System of
of
Government
Political Political
Metaphors Activity

Managing
Pluralism Org.
The Political Methaphore

Org. as System of Government

Org. as System of Political Activity


Politics as Government
• Historically, what has led to the belief that U.S.
organizations should not be ruled by direct
democracy or represent. Democracy or co-
determination.
How are Politics and Communication
Interrelated?
• Management is Political
“Managers frequently talk about authority, power, and
superior- subordinate relations” (Morgan, p. 154)

• Office Politics
“Most people working in an organization readily admit
in private that they are surrounded by forms of
‘wheeling and dealing’ through which different people
attempt to advance specific interest” (Morgan, p. 154)
Organizations as
System of Government

Direct
Codetermin Represent.
Autocracy Bureaucracy Technocracy Democrac
ation Democracy
y

Absolute Everyone has


government an equal right
What is an Autocracy?

• Absolute government where power is held by


an individual or small group and supported by
control of critical resources, property, or
ownership rights, tradition, charisma, and
other claims to personal privilege.
What is Bureaucracy?

• Rule exercised through use of the written


word, which provides the basis for a rational-
legal type of authority, or “rule of law”
What is a Technocracy?

• Rule exercised through the use of knowledge,


expert power, and the ability to solve relevant
problems
What is Codetermination?

• The form of rule where opposing parties


combine in the joint management of mutual
interests, as in a coalition government or
corporatism, each party drawing on a specific
power base.
What is a Representative Democracy?

• Rule exercised through the election of officers


mandated to act on behalf of the electorate
and who hold office for a specified time period
or so long as they command the support of
the electorate
What is a Direct Democracy?

• The system where everyone has an equal right


to rule and is involved in all decision
making...It encourages self-organizing as a key
mode of organizing.
Analyzing Political Systems

“Organizational politics arise when


people think differently and want
to act differently. This diversity
creates a tension that must be
resolved through political means”
(Morgan, p. 160)
Organizations as Political Activity

Interests Conflict Power


Interest
• Task Interest
Connected with the work one has to
perform
• Career Interest
Workplace aspirations and visions as
what their future might hold
• Extra-mural Interest
Personalities, private attitude, values,
preferences and commitments from
outside of work
Interest
“Predispositions
embracing goals,
values, desires,
expectation, and other
orientations and
inclinations that lead a
person to act in one
way rather than
another”
Exhibit 6.2, p. 162,
Conflict
• Where interest collide
• Conflict will ALWAYS exist.
• Conflict can be
– Personal - inter-personal, organizational, status-related.
• Conflict is interpreted by the status of the observer
• Types of conflict will correspond to:
– Organization
– Roles
– Norms
– a society’s values, goals and norms.
Understanding Conflict
• The Conflict Collation Model: The explosion results
in the creation of conflict within the organization

Interest Y
Interest X This collition of
One or more interrest interests creates an
collides than another organizational
obstacle, or ‘explotion’
Relations of Interest and Conflict

• How do different interests play a part in


organizational politics?

• What are some ways in which conflict may


arise? Is conflict always negative?
Power
• Power is the medium to which conflicts of
interest are ultimately resolve.
Types of Power
• Formal authority • Control of Technology
• Control of Scarce • Interpersonal alliances
resources and networks
• Use of Org. Rules, • Control of Counter-orgs.
structure and reg. • Symbolism and
• Control of Decision management of meaning
processes • Gender/Race/Sexuality/
• Control of knowledge and Ability/Age
information • Structural factors
• Control of Boundaries • Power one already has.
• Ability to cope with
uncertainty
Managing PLURALIST Organizations

• Pluralist
• Unitary
• Radical organizations
Managing PLURALIST Organizations

• Pluralist
a society where different groups bargain and compete for a share in the balance of power
and use their influence to realize Aristotle’s ideal of politics: a negotiated order that
creates unity out of diversity

• Unitary
emphasizes the sovereignty of the state and the importance of individuals subordinating
themselves in the service of society as a means of realizing and satisfying their true
interests and the common good

• Radical organizations
suggests that the interests of disadvantaged groups can be furthered in a substantial way
only through radical changes in the structure of society that displace those currently in
power
What are the 5 Pluralist Management
Styles?
1. Avoiding:
 Ignoring conflict and hoping they’ll go away
 Invoking slow procedures to stifle the conflict
 Appealing to bureaucratic rules as a course of conflict resolution
 In what situation would this style be useful?

2. Compromise:
 Negotiating
 Looking for deals or trade-offs
 Finding satisfactory or acceptable solutions
 In what situation would this style be useful?
Cont’d...

3. Competition:
– Creating win-lose situations
– Using rivalry
– Forcing submission
• In what situation would this style be useful?

4. Accommodation:
– Giving way
– Submitting and complying
• In what situation would this style be useful?
Cont’d...

5. Collaboration:
– Problem-solving stance
– Searching for integrative solutions
– Seeing problems and conflicts as challenging
• In what situation would this style be useful?
Critical Thinking

• What are the strengths and weaknesses of the


political metaphor?
Strengths
• Organization is politics with an emphasis on power in
achieving goals
• diagnosing the interests of all parties.
• helps management to explain the efficiency and
effective issues from the perspective of the parties that
interact within the organization.
• We can recognize the social political differences in the
organization and the rules of the organization in the
society.
• Recognizes that conflict exists.
Weaknesses
• Perhaps makes us see conflict in places it does
not truly exist….
• The limitation is the possibility of
organizational politicization
What Concepts Should be Used When
Applying This Metaphor?
conclutions

Organizations • Power ability to produce desired


as models of outcomes
“power and • Power arises from a diversity of interests
politics” • Organizations as coalition of loose
interests, both formal and informal
• Role of gatekeepers
• Information control as a power resource
• New technologies, information,
reconfigures power relations
• Emphasizes the role of conflict in
organizations
Refferences
• Morgan, Gareth (1997). Images of Organization.
New Edition of International Best Seller. Sage
Publication
• Almond, Gabriel A. (1956). Comparative Political
System. The Journal of Politics. Chicago
University. Vol 18. No.3. Aug 1956. pp. 391-409.
• Wikipedia. Cited Dec 3, 2017.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics