Organizational Politics, Justice, and Support: Managing the Social Climate of the Workplace

By Russell S. Cropanzano; K. Michele Kacmar | Go to book overview

3
Influences of Supervisor Behaviors on the Levels and Effects of Workplace Politics

L. Alan Witt

In 1920, Winston Churchill was overheard to say, "Politics are almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can be killed only once, but in politics many times." While office workers have long been aware of the dangers of politics at work, substantial, systematic research on office politics began only in the last decade (e.g., Farrell & Peterson, 1982; Mintzberg, 1985; Narayanan & Fahey, 1982; Porter, Allen, & Angle , 1983). Evolving from research on perceptions of organizational climate, work has focused on organizational politics and its effects on both individuals and organizations. This chapter presents an argument that efforts to address office politics might be most effectively targeted below the level of the organization, and suggests that even in highly political organizations, individual supervisors can reduce the level of office politics and its effects on their subordinates.


ORGANIZATIONAL CLIMATE

The influence of the organization's "psychological atmosphere" ( Pritchard & Karasick, 1973) on employee behavior has received considerable attention during the last four decades. Into the mid-1980s, organizational scientists devoted considerable effort to empirically investigating it under the rubric of "organizational climate." Organizational climate was viewed as a molar concept including values, norms, perceptions, and behaviors of an organization's members. Many climate instruments included a multitude of factors that were not clearly distinguished from the organizational situation. Some examined issues that might more appropriately be labelled organizational structure (e.g., size, span of control). James and Jones

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