Using the Political Process to Effect Organizational Change: Using the Political Process To Effect Organizational Change
BRADY, ROBERT A.
This course is coded as LM, PR, A.
At one time or another, each of us has said something like, "I know what to do to make some really effective--and possibly even profitable--changes in this organization, but the politics make it almost impossible to get anything done." The sense is that, although there are changes that should be made to improve organizational performance, politics (internal, external, governmental) simply obstructs our ability to make a difference. Frustrations notwithstanding, depending on how it is employed, politics can be either an impediment or, more importantly, a source of opportunity for improving organizations. Politics is the art and science of coordinating individuals, departments, management, markets--the entire organizational environment-to effect a balance between the organization's objectives and the methods used to achieve them. As with the other factors that are employed to affect organizational performance-the methods used to improve manufacturing, marketing, sales, finance, and so on-politics is a means that organizations can use to initiate and maintain critical personal and institutional relationships. One of the seminar readings--Latimer's "Why Do They Call It Business If It's Mostly Politics?" is used to provide illustrations of the ambiguous nature of much of what is regarded as organizational politics. What is critical to understand and appreciate from the outset, however, is that politics is not an external factor that is imposed on organizations. Politics is not only a means for achieving personal or institutional power; it is also a method for developing and maintaining personal and institutional relationships within and among individuals and organizations of all types. This seminar will discuss organizational politics and the ways that it is used to identify, characterize, and effect change--both within and among organizations. After reviewing several perspectives on organizations and the roles that political processes play in decision-making, a series of cases is presented that illustrate the contexts and conditions for effective political communication and coordination.