Power and politics are both essential in managing any type of organization. Without these two, management and control of individuals within an organization are not possible. This is true because all organizations consist of different groups and alliances competing for the use of limited resources. Power refers to the ability of an individual or group to secure obedience and compliance from another individual or group. Power depends on an individual’s structural position; such position secures power to the bearer to access different information, resources, and people.
In addition, power involves altering the behavior of another individual or a group by using a concealed force. (Division of Outreach and Extended Studies, 1998). As Wilson (1995) puts it, “Those in power stay in power by reinforcing the existing structure of the organization” (n. p. ). This brought about the existence of politics in an organization. Politics encompasses the behaviors and activities being enforced by an individual or group within organizations to obtain, develop, and use power and supplementary resources to attain preferred results or outcome. Political behavior is being used to turn opposition into allies.
(Division of Outreach and Extended Studies, 1998). The Use of Power and Politics in an Organization Foundations of power can be logically divided into two: the personal power (which is derived from individual’s attributes and skills or expertise) and the position power (which is derived from structural position). Uses of power depend on the circumstances in an organization, but these could be manifested in the following forms: “reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, connection power, expert power, and information power” (Division of Outreach and Extended Studies, 1998, n.
p. ). The practical use or application of the above mentioned powers, wherein power is regarded as basis of needed energy in managing a relationship, is the practice involved in organizational politics. Power and the facility are important for effective management and leadership; this is because all organizations have politics. Organizations look for influences that could boost autonomy (or the freedom to control resources); increase the organizational morale (leading to unity and efficacy); advance organization’s roles and missions; and make the budget bigger.
In order to increase their influence, organizations would be likely to provide information and expertise, recommend alternatives, and perform directives that would advance their self interest (Industrial College of the Armed Forces [ICAF], 2002). Thus, politics maintains power. In addition, if the organization’s status quo is endangered, organizational politics would manifest further such that the organization’s decision making would likely to be more political than rational. The following circumstances could cause the increase of politics in organization: scarcity of resources, non-programmed decisions, and ambiguous goals.
Such situations could also promote political maneuvering, which is also an important practice in leadership and management of any organization seeking to meet their goals and preferred outcome. Power and Politics: The Case of Japan and US Japan is well-known for its paternalistic approach to leadership. Japan managers are successful in motivating their subordinates to levels of outstanding performance in production. They value their employees and consider them as critical part of the company, thus entailing positive and strong working relationships between leaders and subordinates.
Moreover, in a typical Japanese management, there is a collective responsibility for the success of the organization. The Japanese tend to employ reward power through recognition, promotions, and incentives. In addition, Japanese managers consider charisma as an important source of power since charismatic leaders are very influential to subordinate workers (Kelken, Chew, Lon ing, Hua, Koon, 2001). On the other hand, US managers apply supportive leadership in most of their organizations since managers possess a democratic attitude.
US managers are less autocratic and bestow more power on employees. Information is also accessible not only for managers but for the subordinates as well, allowing them to become involved in the organization’s decision making. Such structure helps to boost company’s productivity. Nevertheless, expertise and information power prevail more in most US organizations, as Americans value people with expertise. As a result, a group of experts are consulted first before coming up with a major decision (Rayasam, 2008). All organizations in every nation, for some reasons, need power and politics.
It is also important to emphasize that uses of power and politics vary from one geographical location to another because culture and economy plays an important part on facilitating the use of power and politics. As power has different faces, the use of this depends on the acceptance of an individual or group in an organization. If the use of such power is proven effective and efficient in the culture and economy of an organization, the role of politics would be to legalize, maintain, and reinforce that power to achieve the goals of the organization. References
Division of Outreach and Extended Studies (1998, August 31). Power & politics. Texas Tech University. Retrieved April 1, 2009, from http://www. depts. ttu. edu/hs/rhim5200/htm_files/0012. htm. Kelken, C. , Chew, H. , Ling, P. , Hua, T. , & Koon, Y. (2001). Leadership in the workplace: Japan and the United States of America. National University of Singapore. Retrieved April 1, 2009, from http://sps. nus. edu. sg/~pokailin/acad/leader. pdf. Industrial College of the Armed Forces (Ed. ). (2002). Chapter 17: Leveraging power and politics. In Strategic Leadership and Decision Making. Washington, DC: NDU Press.