Office Politics

What is it?

Office politics can be best defined as “The pursuit of individual agendas and self-interest in an organisation without regard to their effect on the organisation’s efforts to achieve its goals”.1

Why does it occur?

There are academics that call themselves Organisational theorist. These guys work with and try to add to the organisational theory (which essentially is the study of organisational designs and organisational structures 2). They use fancy terms to describe organisations. For example Mueller and Lawler describe organisations as “Nested Structures”3. What this basically means that organisations have structures that consists of smaller groups or departments. These groups can be based on function (such as the finance departments and marketing department). Large organisations might even house multiple smaller full fledge organisations known as strategic business units. have described organisations as nested structures that have competing publics 4. The nested nature of the organisations and the pull that is generated by the different publics within the organisation compels focal employees to align their needs to the most proximate public or organisational agent.

  3. Mueller, C. W., & Lawler, E. J. (1999). Commitment to Nested Organizational Units: Some Basic Principles and Preliminary Findings. Social Psychology Quarterly.
  4. Blau, P. M., & Scott, W. R. 1962. Formal Organizations: A Comparative Approach. San Francisco, CA: Chandler.

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