The World of Warcraft

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The organisational dynamics of guilds can be explored using the Bureaucratic Politics model, which can be applied when there are multiple actors engaged with different priorities and perceptions (McFarland & Gomez, 2013). The Bureaucratic Politics theory contends that the multiple players in an organisation have different resources and power, and the actors will enter a game of exchange or bargaining according to agreed rules (McFarland & Gomez, 2013). Each of the millions of World of Warcraft players have resources of interest to other players, such as quest items, knowledge or access to trade skill masters. Guilds are formed to enable groups to have access to resources and enhance their ability to advance through the game.

Coalitions, like guilds, are social systems that have formed to advance the mutual interests of the group (McFarland & Gomez, 2013). In a coalition, actors hold various positions or interests, and they bring their individual resources to the group and engage in bargaining processes to establish mutual agreements (McFarland & Gomez, 2013). In this sense, the Bureaucratic Politics model, specifically the elements relating to coalitions, gives us an understanding of how and why guilds have emerged in the Word of Warcraft environment. Furthermore, the Bureaucratic Politics model states that bargaining can lead to power struggles within a coalition. Emerson (as cited in McFarland & Gomez, 2013) studies the power struggles within coalitions in his Exchange Process theory, which is at the core of the bureaucratic process model and coalition formation. The process of exchange has four steps which are outlined below, and are then compared to the nature of bargaining within guilds:

1. Every actor enters into a vol...

... middle of paper ... the emergence of guilds to enhance the players’ ability to form alliances and progress through the game by sharing resources and knowledge. The Bureaucratic Politics theory provides an interesting lens for understanding why guilds form, as well as the dynamics of bargaining within guilds when multiple actors bring different resources, power and interests to the game. Leadership and inter-personal relationships are also key to the success of guilds, which indicates a multi-faceted approach is required for understanding the complexities of organisational dynamics in massively multiplayer online role-playing game guilds.


McFarland, D. & Gomez, C. (2013). Organisational Analysis. Retrieved from (

WOWWiki – Guild. (2013). Retrieved 15 October, 2013, from (
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