In the previous lectures we have discussed about RationalOrganization, employee’s duties towards the firm, and firm’sduties towards the employees. In this lecture we will discussabout another type of organization, that is, Political Organiza-tion.
Points to be covered in this lesson:
Concept of Political Organization
To anyone who has ever worked within a large organization, thegoal-directed and efficient structure that the rational model of theorganization attributes to business firms will seem a bitincomplete if not altogether unreal. Although much of thebehavior within organizations accords with the orderly picturedrawn by the rational model, a great deal of organizationalbehavior is neither goal directed nor efficient nor even rational.Employees within organizations often find themselves embroiledin intrigues, in on-going battles for organiza-tion resources, infeuding between cliques, in arbitrary treatment by superiors, inscrambles for career advancement, in controversies over what theorganiza-tion’s “real” goals are or should be, and in disagreementsover strategies for pursuing goals. Such behaviors do not seem tofit within the orderly pattern of the rational pursuit of organizational goals. To understand these behaviors and theethical issues they raise, we must turn to a second model of thefirm, one that focuses less on its rational aspects and more on itspolitical features: The “political model of the organization.” The political analysis of the organization that we shall now sketch is a more recently developed view of organizations than therational analysis. Un-like the rational model, the political model of the organization does not look merely at the formal lines of authority and communication within an organi-zation nor does itpresume that all organizational behavior is rationally de-signed toachieve an objective and given economic goal such as profitability or productivity. Instead the political model of the organizationsees the orga-nization as a system of compet- ing powercoalitions and of formal and infor-mal lines of influence andcommunication that radiate from these coalitions. In place of theneat hierarchy of the rational model, the political model pos-tulates a messier and more complex network of clustered powerrelationships and crisscrossing communication channels.In the political model of the organization, individuals are seen asgrouping together to form coalitions that then compete with eachother for resources, ben-efits, and influence. Consequently, the“goals” of the organization are those es-tablished by thehistorically most powerful or dominant coalition. Goals are notgiven by “rightful” authority, but are bargained for among moreor less power-ful coalitions. The fundamental organizationalreality, according to this model, is not formal authority orcontractual relationships, but power: the ability of the in-dividual (or group of individuals) to modify the conduct of others in a desired way without having one’s own conductmodified in undesired ways.
The Political Model of Organization
An exam-ple of an organizational coalition and the non-formalpower it can exert even over formal authorities is provided by this account of life in a government agency. We had this boss come in from Internal Revenue [to run thisOEO department]. He wanted to be very, very strict. He used tohave meetings every Friday- About people coming’ in late,people leaving’ early, people abusing’ lunch time. . . . Every Friday, everyone would sit there and listen to this man. And we’d all go out and do the same thing again. Next Friday he’dhave another meeting and he would tell us the same thing.(Laughs.) We’d all go out and do the same thing again.(Laughs.) He would try to talk to one and see what they’d say about the other. But we’d been working all together for quiteawhile. You know how the game is played. Tomorrow youmight need a favor. So nobody would say any-thing. If he’d want to find out what time someone came in, who’s going totell him? He’d want to find out where someone was, we’dalways say, “They’re at the Xerox.” Just anywhere. He couldn’tget through. As this example shows, behavior within an organization may not be aimed at rational organizational goals such as efficiency or productivity, and both power and information may travelcompletely outside (even contrary to) formal lines of authority