Politics and Power in Today’s Corporate World

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Politics and Power in Today’s Corporate World

An effective organization focuses on strong leadership, power and political issues. These components are critical to creating an organization mindful of values, ethics, culture and innovation. Analyzing the use of power and politics are essential to understanding the behavior of individuals within organizations. There are two sides to power and politics. In one respect power and politics imply the shady side of leadership. However, power and politics can be positive tools that managers use to accomplish tasks. This paper defines power and politics and examines how one can be used to influence the other in a positive way, thus resulting in gain, and in a negative, corruptive way, which ultimately leads to destruction of an organization.


Power has been described as the last dirty word. Money is easier than power for most people to talk about. People who have power deny it; people who want power try not to appear to be seeking it, and those who are good at getting power are secretive about how they got it (Kanter, 1979). The essence of power is control. In organizational behavior power is defined as the ability of controlling the behavior of others. Power is the force one uses to get things done. Power and leadership should not be confused. Leadership achieves goals and power is the means to facilitate their achievement. Power focuses on the tactics for gaining compliance while leadership focuses on style.

Power is not without influence. One has influence when one has power. Power and influence are key components when a person is trying to achieve organizational goals. Power is divided into two categories; position and personal (Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn, 2003). Power-based on a person’s position has six bases: coercive, reward, legitimate, process, information and representative (Schermerhorn, et al., 2003). The coercive power base is defined as being dependent on fear. A person will react to this power out of fear of the negative results that might occur. A manager has the power to suspend or terminate an employee this gives the manager coercive power over the employee. The opposite of coercive power is reward power. People comply with the wishes or directives of another because doing so produces positive benefits. In the organization context it can apply to promotions or favorable performanc...

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...ely leads to destruction of an organization.

Power and politics can be used to influence the success or failure of an organization. An effective organization selects strong leadership and takes precautious steps to control power and political issues. An organization that fully understands these issues creates a culture centered on values, ethics and innovation. By analyzing power and politics we are able to understand how they influence individual behavior in organizations. We can also better understand how they are used with good intentions and how to avoid them in destructive situations.


Kantar, R. (1979). Power failure in management circuits. Harvard Business Review,

July-August, p.65.

Iwata, E. (2004, July 9). Enron’s Ken Lay: cuffed but confident. USA Today.

University of Phoenix. (Ed). (2003). Organizational Behavior, [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-text]. John Wiley Publisher. Retrieved April 9, 2005 from University of Phoenix, Resource, MGT/331-Organizational Behavior Website: https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/resource/resource.asp



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