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Organizational Politics: Definition & Types

In the business world, the word “organizational politics” conjures up images of power struggles, petty squabbles, and power-hungry individuals. But what exactly is it? And what causes it? If you want to know more and understand the phenomenon, you should continue reading this article. You will learn about the types of organization politics and their causes and effects. You’ll also learn how to manage this behavior.

What is Organizational Politics?

Power and politics are often linked in organizations, although the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Organization politics vary in form and can include ‘behind the scenes’ tactics or information designed to gain power or influence. 

Sometimes, you can refer to it as workplace politics or office politics.  Power struggles tend to arise when resources are scarce and individuals or groups disagree about the allocation of these resources. 

When this happens, it can lead to conflicts of interest, which can lead to the destruction of important positions or even the abolition of an entire organization. Politics occurs in every organization, from small to large, and is unavoidable. Because billions of people have different mindsets, there are always going to be conflicts. 

Typically, however, political behavior occurs at the highest levels of management. Individuals engage in political behavior that benefits their self-interests and undermines the goals of the organization. 

But when you’re aware of how the process works in your workplace, you can take steps to minimize its occurrence. When people engage in organizational political behavior, it’s important to be aware of the different types of tactics. While the majority of instances of political behavior are deemed to be unsavory, there are also times when it’s a positive way to influence others. 

Among these tactics are volunteering for high-profile tasks, publicly praising superiors, and promoting oneself in company newsletters. In such cases, organization politics is a legitimate way to gain power, money, and fame.

The Different Types of Organizational Politics

Personal influence and informal networks are the most common forms of organization politics. In this type of organization, people are attached to their roles, such as secretary-general or vice president. While this is beneficial in some cases, it can also lead to the alienation of employees and tarnish the reputation of an organization. 

The other six types are all forms of conflict. You should avoid them as much as possible. Recognizing these types is crucial for your career success. Here are the six main types in the list below:

  • Bossism
  • Self-promotion 
  • Factionalism
  • Office politics
  • Territorialism
  • Gatekeeping

Causes of Organizational Politics

Source: TechLead

When people get caught up in workplace politics, they find it difficult to focus on their work. They are more interested in discrediting other people or sabotaging their image than in completing their work. 

Employees who are under the influence of political activities, may lose interest in work and even attend office for the sake of attendance. As a result, they may even commit other serious mistakes, such as making poor decisions and being late.

Understanding the causes is crucial to the goals and objectives of the organization. These issues can lead to undesirable consequences for both employees and organizations. In this section, we will look at the impact on employee outcomes in higher education, and whether social capital plays a moderating role. 

One of the primary reasons is the power struggle. As one advances up the ladder, opportunities for quick growth diminish. As a result, ambitious employees begin spreading rumors about their colleagues and tarnishing their reputations. 

Fortunately, the majority of business houses have reward systems that address this issue. An important way to prevent this is to increase employee engagement. Employees who engage in organization politics find it difficult to focus on work. They are more interested in dragging others down and spoiling their image. 

Their productivity and well-being are negatively affected. And this affects the bottom line. So how do you make an organization more engaged? By educating employees about the process and how to avoid it. Whenever you want to encourage employees and engage them in your work, you must lower their perception of organization politics.

The Downsides of The Process

While the benefits of an open, honest company are many, the drawbacks of organizational political behavior can be just as detrimental. High employee turnover and a lack of motivation are some of the negative effects of this type of atmosphere. 

Furthermore, miscommunication and manipulation are often widespread. In the worst cases, employees become dissatisfied with their work and resent their co-workers and managers. As a result, it can be difficult to increase employee morale and productivity.

In contrast to individual politics, organization ones are the result of conflict within a company. It often involves balancing various views. Ultimately, the result of dysfunctional politics is the failure of an organization. 

Nevertheless, some companies will survive, even if it means using political maneuvering to achieve personal goals. For this reason, those in power must be aware of the impact of their actions. 

One way to avoid these problems is to become an active observer and take an active role in preventing and reducing them. Workplaces have certain norms that employees follow, and the best way to avoid these is to follow the unwritten rules. 

And to avoid these pitfalls, prepare to invest critical time in building connections. Although organizational political behavior is unavoidable, it is crucial to be aware of its effects when managing. To minimize the ill effects, managers should focus on the technical aspects of their jobs. In addition, managers should foster positive working relationships with their colleagues to foster trust and minimize its negative consequences.

Effects of Organizational Politics in the Workplace

Organizational politics can have negative effects on employees. Many people feel that their position is at stake when they are involved in this type of behavior. Those who are on the receiving end of such behavior feel jealous of their colleagues who follow the correct procedures. 

Furthermore, employees who feel that their performance is not valued are less committed and perform worse than their co-workers. Furthermore, they experience more job anxiety and depressed moods than others.

Although the relationship between organization politics and employee outcomes is not direct, you can mediate it by social capital. Job stress, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions are significant outcomes of employee perceptions. 

The study also found that higher-order modeling was more accurate. The model was constructed using the Target Coefficient 2 and the corresponding coefficients, allowing for higher-order modeling. It was cross-validated using data from a second sample, which demonstrates its generalizability.

Another effect of workplace politics is that some workers may take shortcuts to the top. They may not even attend meetings because of this unhappiness. Moreover, this type of behavior prevents discussion of critical issues. 

Poor discussion of issues leads to poor decisions and poor performance, which ultimately harms the company’s performance. Thus, employees may sabotage their co-workers to make themselves look better than others.

How to Manage Organizational politics?

If you are a manager, you may be wondering how to deal with organization politics. The good news is that these issues are generally unavoidable. To combat the negative effects, managers should learn to manage the process.

To avoid the negative effects of this type of workplace behavior, you must be proactive in your approach. The best way to manage it is to focus on the technical aspects of your role while cultivating positive working relationships with your colleagues. 

Developing these relationships will allow you to build trust and respect while reducing the negative effects. Another way to manage organization politics is to listen attentively to colleagues, especially those with whom you disagree. 

One of the best ways to prevent workplace politics is to understand the dynamics of power. Many employees perceive the existence of political competition in their workplace as a threat. In this case, they often engage in behavior that is typical of government organizations. 

While workplace politics can be a problem in any workplace, it can be avoided by maintaining office etiquette and job satisfaction. In addition, preventing political fiefdoms is also crucial.

The concept is a relatively new topic in HRM. Because of its endemic nature, many scholars have been motivated to conduct research and develop recommendations on how to deal with it. 

Once you have identified the causes of this type of behavior, you can implement a strategy that can effectively manage it. The approach aims to find a win-win solution for everyone involved and ensure the success of the change initiative.


Many organizations use organizational politics as a tactic to actualize their goals and objectives. They leverage formal, informal, and behind-the-scene approaches to influence their work culture and productivity. Without mincing words, this strategy has helped small and big companies balance different views in the workplace. 


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