The Role of Dispositions in Politics Perception Formation: The Predictive Capacity of Negative and Positive Affectivity, Equity Sensitivity, and Self-Efficacy

Article excerpt

Theoretical frameworks have suggested that a combination of individual influences, job/work environment influences, and organizational influences combine to contribute to the formation of individuals' perceptions of organizational politics (Ferris et al., 2002; Ferris et al., 1989). However, empirical investigations of the individual-level antecedents of politics perceptions have focused on demographic factors such as age, sex, race, organizational tenure, and organizational level (e.g., Ferris, Frink, Bhawuk et al., 1996; Ferris, Frink, Galang et al., 1996; Ferris et al., 1994; Ferris and Kacmar, 1992). With the notable exception of O'Connor and Morrison (2001) and Valle and Perrewe (2000), research has neglected the potential influence of personality characteristics on the formation of politics perceptions.

Valle and Perrewe (2000) initiated the exploration of the personality--politics perception relationship by examining the mediating role of politics perceptions between dispositions such as need for power, Machiavellianism, self-monitoring, and locus of control, with outcomes such as job satisfaction, job anxiety, and intent to turnover. The study found that Machiavellianism and external locus of control serve as significant predictors of politics perceptions. In addition, O'Connor and Morrison (2001) explored the relationship between situational and dispositional antecedents and politics perceptions. Consistent with the findings of Valle and Perrewe (2000), O'Connor and Morrison also found significant relationships between work locus of control and Machiavellianism with politics perceptions.

The present study extends Valle and Perrewe's (2000) and O'Connor and Morrison's (2001) personality-based perspective by proposing that an individual's dispositional traits directly affect their perceptions of politics in work environments. However, the present study extends the previous research by exploring dispositions such as negative affect, positive affect, self-efficacy, and equity sensitivity that have not been examined as antecedents in prior politics perceptions research. The following sections explore previous research examining politics perceptions formation and offers theoretical justification as to why additional dispositions should be studied as integral predictors in the Ferris et al. (1989) perceptions of politics model.

HYPOTHESIS DEVELOPMENT

Perceptions of Organizational Politics (POPS)

Organizational politics is defined as "individual or group behavior that is informal, ostensibly parochial, typically divisive, and above all in a technical sense, illegitimate--sanctioned neither by formal authority, accepted ideology, nor certified expertise (although it may exploit any one of these)" (Mintzberg, 1983: 172). A key point to be developed from this definition is that, because political activities are not formally sanctioned by the organization, such activities tend to create divisive effects. Organizational politics places individuals and groups with conflicting ideologies against one another in a dynamic struggle for scarce organizational resources. The inherent conflict created by this struggle for scarce resources might generate attitudes and behavior divergent from the goals and needs of the organization (Ferris et al., 1994; Rosen et al., 2006).

Theorists have argued that the precursors of these attitudes and behaviors are the individuals' perceptions of organizational politics (Gandz and Murray, 1980; Ferris et al., 1989). Advocates of the perceptual view of politics in organizations argue that even if individuals' perceptions of the impact of political influence on organizational activities and decision-making process is a misrepresentation of actual events, this perception is part of individuals' view of reality and, therefore, will drive their associated cognitive and behavioral responses (Lewin, 1936). As a result, these perceptions may tend to develop more from subjective than objective views of reality. …