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Politics And Power Notes

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Politics and Power 'Images of Organisation' by G Morgan 1998 o 'rights as a citizen and as a paid employee are in conflict with eachother' o 'only democratic right rests in the freedom to find another job' o 'organisation is intrinsically political' o 'ways must be found to create order and direction among people with potentially diverse and conflicting interests' o 'wheeling and dealing'...'politics in short, is seen as a dirty word' o BUT Morgan argues that politics is not necessarily dysfunctional but may be essential to organisational life o 'politics stems from the view that, where interests are divergent, society should provide a means of allowing individuals to reconcile their differences through consultation and negotiation' o Organisations as systems of government:
? Many organisations ruled by authoritarian managers who have considerable power due to personal characteristics/family ties
? eg owner operated firm where principle = 'It's my business and I'll do as I like'
? eg family business - respect family interest and tradition above all
? large organisations often autocratic (power rests in hands of single group/individual)
? Political rule found in organisations:
? Autocracy: power held by individual/small group and supported by control of resources/ownership rights/tradition/charisma
? Bureaucracy: rule exercised through use of written words, rational legal type of authority
? Technocracy: power connected with one's expertise eg IT industry
? Codetermination: opposing parties combine in joint management of mutual interests
? Representative democracy: rule exercised through election of officers mandated to act on behalf of the electorate eg shareholders/directors
? Direct democracy: everyone has equal right to rule and decision making
? Most are mixed in practice o A person who advocates case for employee rights/election of board of directors etc is often thought as taking an unwarranted political stand but not necessarily the case as not so much political issue but arguing for a different approach to already political situation o Industrial co-determination: owners and employees codetermine future of organisations by sharing power and decision making:
? recognise rights of labour to participate in management but not always readily embraced by labour because:
? 'by being part of a decision making process one loses one's right to oppose the decisions that are made'
? so employees interests can be best protected by unions that adopt an oppositional role in order to shape policy without owning it.
? Many opponents fear that employees will be allowed to participate in small decisions but not big ones o Some systems dissolve distinction between managers and labours as opposed to just recognising that they have equal rights. BUT conflict from those who wish to protect rights of owners. o Organisations as systems of political activity:

'more fundamentally, however, politics occurs on an ongoing basis, often in a way that is invisible to all but those directly involved'
? focus on relations between interests, conflicts and power:
? how divergent interests give rise to conflicts resolved/perpetuated by power play
? Analysing interests:
? 'lead a person to act in one direction rather than another'
? relationship and tension between one's job (task), career aspirations, and personal values and lifestyle (extramural interests). Can interact. Complete convergence is the smallest area in the middle (of a 3 circle Venn Diagram) - rare
? 'The tensions existing between the different interests that he wishes to pursue makes his relation to work inherently 'political''
? 'existence of other players, each with interest-based agendas to pursue'
? 'organisations are coalitions and are made up of coalitions'
? coalitions arise when individuals get together to cooperate in relation to specific issues
? organisations usually have a dominant coalition often built around the CEO/major players
? coalitions are usually encouraged as fragmentation between decisions can lead to people only thinking about goals of their own units
? 'negotiation and compromise becoming more important than technical rationality'
? 'organisation members often give considerable attention to increasing their power and influence through these means'
? or 'developed by the powerful to consolidate their power' Understanding conflict:
? 'Conflict arises whenever interests collide'
? 'Organisations promote various kinda of politicking because they are designed as systems of simultaneous competition and collaboration'
? hierarchal organisation chart - work together in subdivision but also compete: fewer jobs at the top
? workers often collaborate to trick managers that they are working hard, managers know this is happening, but are frequently powerless to do anything about it, particularly where plants are unionised
? personal resentments/grudges Exploring power:
? 'Power is the medium through which conflicts of interests are ultimately resolved. Power influences who gets what, when and how'
? Sources of power:
? Formal authority:
? Legitimate ('a form of social approval')
? Charisma, tradition or the rule of law
? Bureaucratic authority - correct application of formal rules and procedures eg democratic election
? 'So long as those who are subject to the kind of authority in use respect and accept the nature of that authority'
? 'The pyramid of power represented in an organisation chart thus builds on a base where considerable power belongs to those at the bottom of the pyramid as well as the top' eg trade unions
? Control of scarce resources:o


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