The B325 course reader, Organisational collaboration contains an interesting chapter about understanding power in organisations.
Some summary notes about organisational politics gleaned from reading the chapter:
What is meant by organisational politics?
Pfeffer likens organisational politics to governmental politics, and points out that in order to understand organisational politics, it is also necessary to understand governmental politics.
Why do they hinge on interdependent action?
Pfeffer goes on to point out that it is possible to exist as a ‘organisational hermit’, operating as an individual, but in order to accomplish anything significant, interdependent action is required, as without this an individual has limited influence.
Why is an awareness of the political dimensions of organisations so important?
Pfeffer points out that individual success in organisations involves working with and through other people, and that success often hinges on how well individuals working within the organisation can coordinate their activities. Most of us work in roles which require the cooperation of others in order to accomplish our jobs, but the difficulty is that many of those other people we depend upon do not fall within our direct chain of command. It is therefore necessary to maintain an awareness of the ‘unofficial’ processes of power and influence that operate within an organisation.
(Source: Pfeffer, 1992, cited in B325, Organisational collaboration).