Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

The Inner Circle: How Politics Affects the Organizational Climate

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

The Inner Circle: How Politics Affects the Organizational Climate

Article excerpt

Purpose: The aim of this paper is to identify the influence of organizational politics on the organizational climate in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME's) of the shoe making industry of the state of Jalisco, Mexico.

Design/methodology/approach: We designed an empirical study and developed a questionnaire with two scales to implement in a representative sample of 134 companies. Our methodology also includes a case study and interviews. We applied the regression analysis technique. We used the Perception of Politic Scale (POPS) which has been used widely in The United States and Canada but not in Mexico.

Findings: Our research indicated an interesting relationship between organizational politics and some climate factors, but not in a negative way. In contrast to what many authors (and a lot of practitioners) expect, a certain level of organizational politics could be useful in helping to achieve a better organizational climate.

Research limitations/implications: The results will help to reinforce the view that some features of organizational politics could be dangerous for the organizational climate, but, conversely, that some of the tactics may also be beneficial for a company.

Practical implications: This study provides interesting implications for managers on how to take advantage of a common behavior (the self-organization of employees) in order to obtain results beneficial for managers and/or the organization. Workplace politics should not be seen as a dysfunctional or aberrant behavior.

Originality/value: Researchers commonly view organizational politics as a barrier to the effective performance of employees within a firm. The underlying idea is that people only become involved in politics through self-interest; in this paper the authors showed that, conversely employees involve themselves in politics and simultaneously maintain a good organizational climate at the same time. Organizational politics could be considered as the "missing link" in organizational studies.

Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge the support received from Tecnológico de Monterrey to carry out the research reported in this article.

INTRODUCTION

While power has clearly been a central construct in sociology and political science since the 19th century, the emergence of the concept as an object of study in administrative literature is most recent in the middle of the 20th century. Almost at the same time, organizational climate studies began. This could be as a result of the study of the field of administration, whose early authors, mainly Anglo-Saxons attached to a conservative power, adopted a view from Weber and assumed that companies were places where decision-making was exclusively rational. Authors such as Fayol and Taylor wanted to explain the conduct of the individuals and the psychological climate in an organization using economic and mathematical models, so that power was seen as an irrelevant construct.

The paradigm of "scientific management" or the classical school was not questioned until the 1960s by the Carnegie Group. They developed the concept of an "administrative man" who takes into account the cognitive and contextual limitations of the individual in decision-making. Authors such as March and Simon (1961) suggested that the decision-making process is a political process resulting from the conflict of interests which is a characteristic of enterprises whose areas are usually competing for limited resources. However, the Carnegie Group was too focused on the psychological factors of decision-making and left out the structural mechanisms of the company and the formation of coalitions (Ibid.).

Butcher and Clarke (2003) argued that the study of political behavior should be promoted because they consider it the "missing link" in organizational studies; politics should not be seen as dysfunctional or aberrant behavior which very few support in practice, but something which is a necessary skill in managers. …

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