Power and politics are often considered to be integral components in the development of an organization. Although politics and power are clearly separate entities, both are needed for the organization to effectively manage its operations. Given that both of these issues often play a mitigating role in the development of the organization, there is a clear need to delineate the similarities that exist between these two ideologies. Using this as a basis for research, this investigation considers a comparison/contrast of politics and power in the organization. Through the presentation of a real-world example of how politics and power work in the organization a clear understanding of the integral nature of these concepts will be elucidated.
Comparing Power and Politics.
In order to begin this investigation, it is first helpful to consider what is meant by power in the organization. Boe (2004) in his examination of power reports that, 'One can say that in organizational terms power is the ability to get things done, to produce change. 'Power is the ability to effectively manipulate or control a situation of a person. Power involves changing behavior and can be a source of leadership' (p. 140). While there are different types of power that leaders in the organization can acquire 'i.e. legitimate, coercive, etc', Boe asserts that in order to be effective power must be utilized in a positive manner to move the organization forward. If power is not used in a positive manner, it can have devastating consequences for the organization.
With the basic context of power explicated, it is now possible to consider what is meant by politics in this same context. Boe goes on to note the definition of politics as 'the study of who gets what, when and how' (p. 140). Boe argues that this process can be seen in almost every aspect of organizational discourse. From which department gets money for projects to who gets promoted in the organization.