Culture, Power & Politics in the Workplace

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Culture, Power & Politics in the Workplace As far back as history can be told mankind has struggled between balancing culture, power and politics. Many wars have been fought and many people have placed their lives on the line in order to stand up for what they believe in. The combinations of culture, power and politics have spilled over into the workplace. In today’s business environment individuals have much more to worry about than just completing their assigned tasks. Organizational culture, power and office politics influence day to day operations as well as govern the atmosphere within the organization. The amount of impact that power and politics have in the workplace, directly reflect the organization’s culture formally as well as informally. Organizational Structure Organizational structure within an organization is a critical component of the day to day operations of a business. An organization benefits from organizational structure as a result of all it encompasses. It is used to define how tasks are divided, grouped and coordinated. Six elements should be addressed during the design of the organization’s structure: work specialization, departmentalization, chain of command, spans of control, centralization and decentralization. These components are a direct reflection of the organization’s culture, power and politics. Common Organizational Designs Most organizations fall under one of three organizational designs: simple structure, bureaucracy and matrix structure. The organizational design of a company suggests who makes executive decisions and how they are enforced. The organizational design is typically decided based on the size of the company and market place. Simple Structure Simple structure is widely used by small businesses in which the owner directly manages the day to day operations. The benefit of using the simple structure is that it is simple. One person normally calls the shots and takes full responsibility for the businesses success and failure. “It’s fast, flexible, and inexpensive to maintain, and accountability is clear” (Judge & Robbins, 2007, p.546). Unfortunately, using simple structure as an organizational design limits the business of its full potential, as it grows, it becomes more difficult for one individual to oversee the daily operation and make quick executive decisions. Once an organization reaches this point, it must change its organizational design in order to remain competitive within its market. Bureaucracy Bureaucracy is an organizational design based on the concept of standardization. “It is characterized by highly routine operating tasks achieved through specialization, very formalized rules and regulations, tasks that are grouped into functional departments, centralized authority, narrow spans of control, and decision making that follows the chain of command” (Judge & Robbins, 2007, p.

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