Organizational Politics, It's Moderators and Impact on Work Attitudes, Work Outcomes and at large on the Organization.
Organizational politics fulfills the self serving interests of the employees sometimes even at the cost of organizational performance. The literature review looks at the different aspects and impacts of the organizational politics.
The company politics decreases the first-rate management, good quality schedules, and good spirits or morale. These things are directly and positively related to some other things too, hence when these (the above-mentioned) things are adversely affected; they also impact good communication, quality of individual performance, technical success and eventually commercial success. Another interesting finding of which the managers need to be well aware of is that politics can emerge due to the increase in the commercial success and hence more commercial success leads to more politics, which (politics) in turn through different routes reduces the commercial success and therefore the decrease in the commercial success causes lower politics. (Voyer, 1994)
The organizational politics is associated with various work outcomes like performance assessment and extrinsic successes of the employees. (Higgins, 2003). It is also related to Job satisfaction, turnover intentions, organizational commitment and citizenship behavior (Randall, 1999), Job dedication and interpersonal facilitations (Witt, 2002)
Several studies show that organizational politics causes different problems for the organization and employees. Employees in order to survive in the political climate get themselves into political behaviors that affect the employees and organization in a negative manner (Harrell Cook, 1998); employees at times also display political behaviors that manipulate the performance assessment and behaviors of the supervisors. (Higgins, 2003)
Upward appeals as political influence tactics are attained through acquiring informal or formal support of higher ups to endorse the request or using a chain of command to influence the higher levels that possess the power over the other person. But the choices are limited as there are few chances when the higher ups would be able to exercise their power, which they have due to their position in the organization, to make the target act in accordance with someone else (using higher ups) political influence tactics. Exchange tactics as practiced by offering an exchange (you do for me, I'll return the favor), offering personal sacrifice in return to target obeying the request or by striking a chord about the past favors done; this political influence strategy also provides limited opportunities in terms of the limited availability of future behavioral options; this political influence attempt fails when there is no give-and-take in this process and this leads to holding back of favors. Ingratiation can be displayed in variety of chosen behaviors; hence this cannot be limited to few behaviors. (Christiansen, Villanova & Mikulay, 1996)
In addition to the above mentioned political influence strategies, personality traits can also act as a moderator in the political climate; moderators can reduce the impact and influence of the political climate on the individuals. Organizational politics might or might not impact the individuals possessing different personality traits. (Witt, 2002) Similarly, some political influence strategies are not as harmful as others depending upon their nature. (Christiansen, Villanova & Mikulay, 1996)
It is also important how individuals perceive the political climate surrounding them; if employee perceives it as favorable then it might not impact the employee's work attitudes and work outcomes because the employee has compatibility with the environment. (Christiansen, Villanova & Mikulay, 1996)
The literature review looks at the impact of organizational politics on employees work attitudes and work outcomes and also analyzes the moderators of organizational politics; and hence its overall impact on the organization. The moderators were analyzed as they increase and decrease the impact of organizational politics on different individuals. The literature review also looks at the implications of organizational politics.
2. Perception of politics:
Several recent studies have evaluated the perception of organizational politics perspective (i.e. subjective evaluation of the individuals' observation was taken regarding the political climate). The perspective was proposed because individuals are sensitive towards the situations cues and react in accordance with them; the way they perceive their atmosphere and not with respect to the reality. (e.g Gandz & Murray, 1980; Harrell-Cook,1998)
3. Organizational Politics - Work Attitudes and Work Outcomes:
Zanzi, Arthur & Shamir (1991) discovered through their study that the external career concerns of personal success and organizational involvement are strongly associated with political tactics than internal career concerns of skill development and autonomy.
The personal success career concerns are social rank, status, income and recognition; external career concerns also include organizational involvement that refers to the employee's career importance to the organization for whom he/she is working; this includes talents of the individual as well as employee's involvement with other employees of the organization and also training and developing others as the need arises. Hence organizational involvement, in addition to, personal success also affects organizational outcomes and in turns the external career of the employee.
Autonomy (nonexistence of rules, lack of restrictions and independence from close supervision) and skill development (development of personal competencies, refining technical skills and abilities) refer to the internal career concerns; their association with political tactics is weak as they are not dependent on external evaluation.
The use of hierarchical tactics is not associated to either of external and internal career concerns. They refer to tactics that exhibit clear endeavor to achieve status, control and power and have reliance on the legitimate, coercive and reward powers and include behaviors such as compliance, intimidation, ingratiation, self nomination, self presentation, manipulation and blaming of others; the possible explanation is that political tactics incorporated in the hierarchical tactics are so socially objectionable that people avoid them and remain away from employing them in their workplace. People fear to exercise such tactics as they can damage their career concerns and might actually get the ones who practice these hierarchical tactics into trouble because they might be illegal and inhibited in the organization. (Zanzi, Arthur & Shamir ,1991)
Personal success and organizational involvement are more strongly and positively connected to networking tactics. The networking tactics are less obvious; these include expert, referent and legitimate powers. Though it can be imagined that personal success is associated to both hierarchical tactics and networking tactics but the empirical research shows that both personal success as well as organizational involvement are only connected to networking tactics. In addition to it, more need for organizational involvement discourages the rate of hierarchical tactics hence the organizational involvement is negatively connected to hierarchical tactics. Skill development career concern is negatively related to networking tactics; when the employees' need of skill development is high, then employees use less networking tactics. The possible explanation might be that employees want to polish their skills and abilities not to promote their external careers but for their own sake hence they remain away from organizational politics. The networking tactics are not that much socially unacceptable and hence are used by employees to promote their career concerns. Both individual career concerns along with departmental concerns are promoted with the use of networking tactics. (Zanzi, Arthur & Shamir, 1991)
The political environments generally demotivate the individuals from throwing in their organization their maximum potential because it's risky deal. Hence politics contributes towards unenthusiastic job performance and reduced organizational citizenship behavior. Randall (1999) study explored that there exists a positive correlation between organizational politics and turnover intentions and a negative correlation between organizational politics and Job satisfaction. Supervisors in his sample also assessed the employees against the two constructs of organizational citizenship behavior and the relationship was investigated between the perception of employees regarding organizational politics and two dimensions of OCB based on supervisors' evaluations of employees. The OCB measures employees' behavior in the organization; there exists negative correlation between OCBI (which benefits a specific individual) and organizational politics; also OCBO (which benefits the organization as a whole) and organizational politics are negatively related. Harrell Cook (1998) also found that there is a significant and negative relationship between job satisfaction and perception of organizational politics.
There are two stress-related repercussions of workplace politics i.e. job distress and aggressive behavior at work. The organizational politics is positively related to employees' job distress and burnout. Vigoda (2002) proved this relationship significant in the three samples, three sectors and more than 540 subjects that were used in his study. There was another outcome of organizational politics: aggressive behavior of the employees. When the job distress measure was modified by incorporating both job distress and burnout and its unified role was observed to investigate the correlation between politics and aggressive behavior by employees, it was concluded that stress is pricey for the organization as it adversely affects the employees' morale and motivation. Employees who get involved in the workplace politics and gain advantage from the politics are also at failure ultimately because of the unaccommodating responses from others. Hence the whole organization suffers at organizational level and the need arises to deal with stress and burnout. Vigoda (2002) findings also exposed that there exists a significant statistical relationship between job satisfaction and job distress. Job satisfaction and job distress was strongly linked to each other in all of three samples of his study. He found through his findings that organizational commitment was also correlated with the job distress but the relationship was not as strong as the relationship of job distress and job satisfaction. Job distress, job burnout, organizational politics and aggressive behavior cause the deviations in the job satisfaction and organizational commitment.
Now look at the organizational politics' impact on two different components of organizational commitment.
The affective commitment is one component of commitment through which individual establishes emotional attachment with the organization. Organizations which are non political meet the needs of employees and hence employees are able to develop an emotional bond with these type of non political organizations. The other form of commitment is continuance or calculative. It keeps the individual committed to the organization because departure from the organization would result in prospective loss to the workers in monetary terms; this could be due to the fact that the individual is unable to look for a new job with having compensations as good as his/her present job is providing. It depends less upon the social workplace environment and largely upon the importance of the opportunities available to the employees. Randall (1999) found a correlation between politics and organizational commitment: his study says that continuance commitment attends to only economic objectives, that is employees' salary or pay ,and leaves out the concerns that are related to socio-emotional goals like status, self-respect, sense of worth and self esteem.
In actual, politics is considered a combination of economics and non-economics transactions and hence it's a broader construct where all transactions are not economics and include other socio-emotional aspects like power and intra-group respect. Hence politics needs to be correlated with both the components of the organizational commitment. Randall (1999) findings proved that there exists negative relationship between perceived organizational politics and affective commitment whereas there is no correlation between continuance commitment and politics.
It was also interesting to find that organizational politics impact employees of all sectors equally. Vigoda (2002) studied the relationship of organizational politics-stress aftermaths using data from three different sectors. The study contributed to the literature by making this relationship to go beyond the sectoral differences and by giving this relationship a more universal meaning. The correlation between Job distress and organizational politics acquired stronger trustworthiness than was established by the previous studies; hence suggesting at the same time that even sectoral differences don't reduce the impact of politics. This finding suggests that the disruptive effects of organizational politics can affect many sectors; hence reducing the productivity of different sectors, which in turn can lead to unimaginable and huge losses.
Organizational Politics is linked to commercial success of the organization. Organizational Politics hurts the commercial success, which is really important for the survival of the organization. Voyer (1994) gripping discovery showed that there is a direct relationship between effectiveness (outcome) variables and politics. When the effectiveness (outcome) variables, for example commercial success decrease so do the politics. Hence it leads to increased effectiveness.
This picture is very much alike in a nation state where there is raging politics when the country is at peace and politics decreases when the nation is in dilemma. Voyer (1994) explains that there exists positive looping between politics and effectiveness variables which make these phenomena happen and hence it works both ways. Increases contribute towards increases, and decreases lead to decreases. He found out that politics decreases the politics; and in fact politics works against the politics. But even with this it was almost not hale and hearty for organizational effectiveness. The reason behind the lower politics was the holding back of the organization's members; they deduced that they wanted to reduce politics by keeping the commercial success down. The members of his sample inferred that organizational politics acted as a medium that kept them away from success by stifling their enthusiasm and capacities to perform towards the achievement of success.
4. Organizational Politics & Influence Tactics - Gender and Work Experience:
Gender is another variable that affects the perception and attitude towards political behavior in organization. Males as compared to women display more political behaviors and at the same time are more tolerant towards organizational politics. Males also accept organizational politics as normal and routine part of organizational life because they are more familiar and also have better understanding of organizational politics. Men as compared to females don't perceive organizational politics that negative and harmful for the organization, which shows that males are relatively more habituated to organizational politics. (Drorry & Beaty, 1991)
The subjects' (males and females) attitudes towards organizational politics was different regarding the gender of the participants in the political situation. The subjects view political behaviors of their own sex more positively as compared to political manipulation of the opposite gender. Hence gender moderates the relationship between subject and organizational politics. The empirical results show that tendency to view political manipulators are alike among males and females. Therefore organizational politics in itself is not considered favorable for the organization but the gender plays its role to differentiate political behaviors when it's displayed by subjects of different genders (males or females). The possible reason behind supporting the political manipulations of same sex is having sympathy with the same gender. (Drorry & Beaty, 1991)
There was some conventional wisdom (based on observations before 1980) that males as compared to females are more political and hence made more influence attempts; whereas women are submissive and passive, but there are some recent findings that challenge these cultural stereotypes.
Dubrin (1989) found that both genders are equally political and have about the same orientation towards engaging in political behaviors; this is in line with the present scenario. Women are becoming more and more career- minded just recently; they are also acquiring dominant positions and hence influence in the organizations. Moreover, male and female having the same years of job experience also showed the same amount of tendencies towards the political behaviors.
Career experience in terms of number of years also suggests that employees having more experience also influence their interpersonal handling on the job. The reason behind this is that experienced employees become more considerate, thoughtful and more diplomatic towards the handling of the situations that confront them in their work life; and hence they indulge in less political activities in the later stage of their career. There also exists a significant relationship between the use of influence tactics and length of career experience. Employees who are in the starting phase of their career indulge more in the influence tactics such as assertiveness and exchange of favors. (Dubrin, 1989)
Men and Women stress upon different influence tactics. Personal charm and personal appearance are used by men more frequently because males perceive that they are more effective and work well in accomplishing their tasks. This supports the research of Cash and Janda (1984) that physical appearance and physical attraction play an important role towards the career growth of males. Men who have better physical appeal form an opinion that they are more qualified for job and also are recommended for higher start up salaries as opposed to unattractive men; whereas unattractive females are more favorably suggested for managerial positions.
Another stereotype attached with females is that they don't stress team play that comes with the concept that women as compared to men are less likely to participate in sports that are played in teams at early stage in life like during their school years. This label has also lost its validity because the recent study suggests that there is no significant difference between men and women in engaging in team play as the most important means of accomplishing tasks on job. Team play is also counted towards one of the influence tactics for the purpose of getting job done.
An implication of this study is that managers should keep in mind that most of the influence tactics should not be differentiated based on gender because no significant difference exists in the political choices regarding the gender. Managers should also be considerate about the fact that the political tactics or influence tactics like using personal charm, manipulation or personal appearance are more associated to males than females and the concept that these tactics are greatly used by females than males have come out to be false.
Career experience also doesn't explain any difference in the perception of the effectiveness and significance of these three influence tactics (like personal appeal, manipulation and personal appearance). This means that males or females irrespective of number of years of work experience employ these tactics in the same manner explained as above. Males irrespective of the length of career are more prone than women to use these three tactics to achieve their personal goals and organizational objectives. Therefore no significant relationship exists between these three influence tactics and career length (number of years). (Dubrin, 1989)
One could give the reason that it might be possible that females in the sample were self-protective and hence didn't reveal the true feelings about the effectiveness of charm, manipulation and personal appearances but this same argument also raises the question that why males were not defensive in accepting the helpfulness of these three tactics in getting their job done. Another argument might be that these findings are self perception of men and women. Direct behavioral observations might give different side of the story but it still needs to be proved. For the time being we have to believe on what has been exposed to us.
Table: Do Men and Women differ in their perception of the Effectiveness of the Influence Tactics to accomplish tasks.
INFLUENCE TACTICS GENDER DIFFERENCES 1. Tendencies to engage in political behaviors. No gender difference 2.Personal Charm Males are more prone towards personal charm 3. Team Play No gender difference 4. manipulation of work situations Men employ this influence tactic more than women 5. Personal Appearances Men more oriented than Women towards the use of personal appearances. 6. Assertiveness No gender difference 7. Exchanging favors No gender difference 8. Upward Appeal No difference
5. Organizational Politics and its moderators:
Organizational Politics needs to be studied in relation to personality traits to assess its impact on different employees. Employees possessing different personality traits might or might not be affected in the same way and so do their work attitudes and work outcomes.
Witt (2002)studied the relationship between personality traits and contextual performance in politically charged climate. He focused on the three dimensions of Big Five personality model i.e. conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extraversion to measure the personality in order to know what kind of employees are more affected by the organizational politics and for this reason their contextual performance i.e. Job dedication (employee makes every effort to meet deadlines) and interpersonal facilitations (employee keeps away from unproductive objections that may negatively have an effect on others) is affected. The sample of the study was 540 workers (77 percent women and 23 percent men) and the survey was done in the working hours and private sector organization was studied. It was revealed that personality differences of conscientiousness and extraversion don't act as moderating force on the political situation and hence personality differences don't play any role towards moderating the political atmosphere. His findings showed that both the dimensions of contextual performance i.e. job dedication and interpersonal facilitation levels get impact from the organizational politics. The reason given is that perhaps politically charged atmosphere impacts emotionally and socially and diverts the individuals irrespective of being highly conscientiousness. Organizational politics impact extraverted individuals in a way that social partners are unavailable to these people hence the need of interactions remains unfulfilled; the phenomena behind this is that in a highly politically charged work climate, potential partners protect themselves by limiting their interpersonal interactions. Hence there exists negative relationship between both the dimensions of contextual performance i.e job dedication and interpersonal facilitations and organizational politics, keeping in view the personality traits of conscientiousness and extraversion.
Different people have different perspectives about the climate that surrounds them; it is very much due to this fact that some people might find the climate that surrounds them as more favorable than their counterparts. Christiansen, Villanova & Mikulay (1996) examined a person climate fit model; this model answers many questions about the effects of organizational politics on work attitudes; this point of view emphasizes that satisfaction comes in only when the climate is in agreement with the personal preferences. More positive work attitudes are displayed when the employees perceive the politically influenced climate as favorable to them. The personal preference of employees moderates the relationship between organizational politics and work attitudes. The person-climate fit model broadens the understanding of the effects of the organizational politics on work attitudes. The organizational members' perception of the political climate and the use of different influence tactics by them explain the impact of organizational politics on work attitudes. Hence not all workers are equally affected by the organizational politics and it's a matter of how they perceive the climate. Hence the perception of the political climate also acts as a moderating force and political climate impacts the work attitudes of different employees differently.
Some employees also adopt different political behaviors to adjust in the politically charged climate. Harrell Cook (1998) discovered that individuals who perceive that their organizations are highly politically charged but don't want to leave the organization try to step in the political behaviors to make the atmosphere more supportable for their stay. They try to control the situation despite of job dissatisfaction because their motive is to stick in the organization hence their political behaviors provide them means to deal with the politically charged atmosphere of the organization. Hence political Behaviors also moderate the relationship of political climate and work outcomes & attitudes.
Highly agreeable people get less affected by the levels of politics in the work climate. They display interpersonal facilitations, behave considerately and cooperatively irrespective of how political they perceive their work environment. Hence Agreeable personality trait also acts as a moderator and reduces the impact of political climate on the employee. (Witt, 2002)
Wesolowski, Mossholder, Field & Giles (1989) suggested through their study that the perception of political tactics of employees also acts as a moderating force between intentions- turnover relationship. The turnover intentions in employees, who want to leave the organization voluntarily, can be predicted by the employee's perception of political tactics. The employees who score high on perception of political tactics (who make political alliances to serve the mutual interests, whether it is with superiors or subordinates or privately divert the plans or make delays in the actions that don't pursue their own aims so that they are never completed) are less likely to leave the organization. Intention to quit predicted that turnover is high for individuals who score low in perception of political tactics. The relationship between turnover intentions and actual turnover is weak for the employees scoring high in perception of political tactics. When individuals try to change the work situation, it generates many effects that are related to turnover intentions and actual turnover.
Political skills can be categorized into hard, soft and rational strategies. Employees employ these strategies to achieve their valued outcomes from their colleagues, subordinates and superiors. The upward influence strategies have gained importance in the past few years. In the process of economizing, organizations have been downsized and flattened and the lower level employees have been empowered to meet the competitive demands as well as to increase the innovation and productivity within the organization. The upward influence strategies gained much more attention in the last few years due to the reason that 'now' lower level employees have more opportunities and reasons to manipulate their superiors.
Assertiveness, Upward Appeal and Coalition are hard strategies; ingratiation and exchange are soft strategies; and logic reason and rationality are rational strategies. The adoption and the use of these different types of influence strategies depend upon individual differences.
The employees having more education and Machiavellian individual characteristics are more likely to use hard strategies of influence tactics. Though manipulating is much easier in the face to face setting still Machiavellian behavior is very adaptive to the surroundings and hence this individual characteristic of subordinates is quite predictive of using hard strategy to achieve the desired outcomes from supervisors. Its also explains that low Machiavellians have higher moral standards that restrict them to use hard strategies in contrast to high Machiavellians. In contrast, high Machiavellians want to use any type of influence tactics to achieve their goals and objectives regardless of the moral standards.
Though it's true that hard strategies are difficult to use but highly educated subordinates and high Machiavellians are more likely to use hard strategies than others because they are more self confident and are good at finding opportunities where they can employ hard influence strategies and get away as well as succeed in their attempt to influence their superiors through hard strategies.
There is also strong support in the directions of relationships of hard strategies with power differentials between supervisor and subordinates, Leader Member Exchange and external locus of control. It has been proved through a study of Farmer, Maslyn, Fedor & Goodman (1997) that there is an inverse or negative relationship between the power differential between supervisors and superiors and use of hard strategies, that is when the subordinates perceive that there is little power differential between subordinates and their supervisors, they tend to use hard strategies and receive compliance from their superiors. This also explains that the ability of subordinates as well as opportunity available to employ hard strategies are important considerations when selecting hard influence strategies.
Leader Member Exchange and the use of hard strategies are inversely related to each other. The high LMX relationship based on trust, mutual liking and respect discourages use of coercive form of influence tactics by the subordinates. Subordinates, having good working relationships with their supervisors, don't want to put their relationship at risk as they fear to lose the resulting benefits. However, low LMX relationship doesn't rule out the use of hard influence strategies because the subordinates have not much to lose; hence they don't tend to protect the relationship. (Farmer, Maslyn, Fedor & Goodman, 1997)
Individual differences that differentiate individuals to use coercive influence strategies are also associated to locus of control. Individuals' perception about their personal control over the working surroundings or the external factors such as luck or powerful coworkers and others in their workplace is responsible for their use of coercive form of influence tactics. There is a positive or direct relationship between external locus of control and use of hard influence strategies. Those employees who perceive that they are powerless usually picked up the hard influence strategies because they felt that these strategies will be more effective than rational strategies to achieve compliance. Hence the perception of others responsible for their success in the workplace makes them more aggressive to use hard or coercive form of upward influence strategies. Whereas employees with the internal locus of control consider that their personal control is the reason for the attainment of outcomes and hence they are not as likely to use hard strategies as externals.
The literature suggests that some forms of influence tactics are preferred over others. This is especially true under different working conditions as well as the employees' perception of the work surroundings like LMX relationship, other factors that predict the use of certain influence strategies like hard, soft or rational also comes from the individual differences like being high Machiavellians or low Machiavellians, subordinates level of education and employees having external or internal locus of control.
Soft influence strategies involve very high political skills as they require psychological manipulation of the target or manipulating the target in an emotional way to get compliance. The personal or individual characteristics play their part in the selection of soft influence strategies like level of education of subordinates, self monitoring and external locus of control.
Political skills and abilities are required to present one selves in the social environments and to the superiors, which are required to achieve certain desired outcomes like supervisor attention and evaluation. Self monitoring is usually done in the social environment to create an image because such people are sensitive about their illustration in the working place. There are some empirical studies which suggest that impression management behaviors and self monitoring are positively related and that also implies that ingratiation and self monitoring is also directly related.
Soft influence strategies are used by highly educated employees as well as by those people having external locus of control. Education increases the ability of the person to give meaning to the events and hence choosing the influence strategies that are more effective on the target of influence. Education enhances the political skills that are helpful for the judgment of influence strategies that are functional and effective to influence the target. Hence education of subordinates is positively related to the use of soft influence strategies (like ingratiation and exchange.)
Externals believe that they lack power and control and hence turn to the use of soft influence strategies. They perceive that they are powerless and hence they think they need to gain conformity of those colleagues on whom they are dependent. They also wish to be in situations where they are dependent on the target of influence so that they can easily manipulate the target's emotions either positively or negatively.
Rational influence strategies are used by the subordinates who are highly educated and are not sharing the same office location as of their supervisors. The education is the tool that enhances the capacity of the individual to give logic and reason to the arguments that the subordinates present to the superiors hence able to drive the desired outcomes from the supervisors. The rational influence strategy is also helpful where there is inadequate face to face interaction and when it's impossible or hard to use some other form of upward influence strategy.
Hard and soft strategies are possible in face to face interactions because these involve facial expressions and other social cues, which can only be communicated in person or when supervisor and subordinate are co-located. Higher educated people have more political skills and therefore they are able to use more than one form of influence strategy. (Farmer, Maslyn, Fedor & Goodman, 1997)
Political tactics are usually transferred through specific communication channels and also these tactics are sender specific. Organizational roles and communication channels are both important in selecting the influence tactics for self serving messages. Specific differences were found in the channels used for politically motivated messages and task related messages.
Self Serving messages are usually communicated in face to face setting and this communication channel is not much preferred in task related messages. The reason behind the selection of specific communication channels is related to media richness theory. Political tactics are effective only through personal and persuasive cues like vocal shades, eye contact and body gestures. These verbal and non-verbal cues are necessary to emphasize the politically motivated message. Hence email, letter and telephone are not as effective as face to face meetings and exchanges in passing on self serving messages. As present-day organizations are more focused and oriented towards team structures and team work, more and more politically motivated messages are usually directed towards lateral and peer to peer relationships. Hence self serving messages are more and more getting oriented towards lateral relationships because of empowering teams and flattening of organizations.
One of the reasons that most of the self serving messages are aimed at peer to peer relationships and not in superior -subordinate relationship is that not all communication strategies used to exert influence are officially accepted in vertical relationships. When peers exert influence on one another, there is no organizational policy involved; hence the peers can be influenced through most of political tactics. These political tactics are most of the time used against the peers because they are all competing for limited resources; for this reason the propensity to use political tactics against the peer also increases many fold as against upward and downward. (Sussman, Adams, Kuzmits & Raho, 2002)
Procedural, distributive and interactional justices present in the organization also have moderating effects on the relationship between organizational politics and work attitudes.
When the justice is high in the organization and politics is low, the work environment is the most fair. Moreover this work environment also generated the lowest level of turnover intensions and highest level of job satisfaction.
Lowest level of job satisfaction comes under the condition of high politics and high procedural justice and low distributive justice. Job dissatisfaction occurs due to unfair distribution of rewards that causes frustration in the employees.
The employees are more satisfied and want to remain with the politically charged organization when the rewards are fairly distributed and received by them. It doesn't matter to the employee that how fair is the process through which these rewards are determined as long as they are receiving rewards. (Harris, Andrews & Kacmar, 2007)
In several researches, it has been concluded that job and pay satisfaction get more impact from distributive justice than procedural justice. The employees are generally more sensitive and respond negatively to perceived politics when they are hurt in terms of rewards. The politics is then viewed with the perceptive that it is affecting them personally. In the highly political environments, the work attitudes like job satisfaction and turnover intentions are highly affected by the distributive justice (fair distribution of rewards) present in the organization.
Byrne (2005) concluded through his study that in the political environment when employees perceive that there is higher level of procedural fairness, the GATGA (go along to get ahead) component of organizational politics mitigates its effects on employees' turnover intentions. This component of organizational politics refers to individuals getting along with the actions by others to gain benefits. This is an example of covert and indirect behavior used by employees to ensure achievement of personal gains.
This finding can be really important with respect to staffing the organization and for the purpose of retaining the employees. Managers need to give importance towards treating the employees in a fair manner; they also need to increase the level of fairness within the organization for the purpose of reducing the negative impact of politics, as doing so would lower the turnover intentions in the employees.
The relationship between the component of organizational politics i.e. GPB (general political behavior) and turnover intentions is not moderated by procedural justice. GPB are obvious self serving behaviors to achieve personal gains. The reason behind this is that politics exits when the environment is ambiguous and there is little predictability, whereas procedural justice reduces ambiguity. Procedural justice brings in stability and lowers the ambiguity. Fair procedures and GPB (general political behaviors) cannot co-exist and are opposing at high levels at the same time.
Both the components of organizational politics are negatively related to in-role job performance; the relationship between organizational politics and job performance is not moderated by both procedural and interactional justice.
Mangers need to reduce politics in the organization regardless of the levels of distributive and procedural justice present in the organization. Managers also need to focus on enhancing both types of justices by making clear policies of rewards allocations. If it is not possible to take advantage of both types of justices due to limited resources then it is mandatory to focus on distributive justice as it can result in better work attitudes.
Miller, Rutherford & Kolodinsky (2008) discovered through their findings that the relationship between organizational Politics and Job satisfaction is not moderated by ethnicity, work setting, age and cultural differences. These moderators also had no affect on the relationship between job stress and organizational Politics. The moderators of age, employment sector, ethnicity and domestic or international sample didn't moderate or affect the link between the Perception of Organizational Politics and Job Stress. The turnover intentions were lower in the political environments for the employee working for private sector employees than for public sector employees.
The link between perception of organizational politics and organizational commitment is also tempered by age and whether the employees are domestic or international. There exists significant and strong relationship between people of Old age and organizational commitment. The recent studies also suggest that there is a significant stronger relationship between organizational commitment and domestic workers. There has been stronger negative relationship between organizational Politics and Organizational commitment for old age workers and domestic workers than for young and international workforce.
The possible reason behind old age employees more psychologically and emotionally adversely affected by the perception of organizational politics might be that they have more practical outlook of the workplace because of their more work experience and lower organizational commitment occurs in them as they have more employment opportunities with respect to their work experience.
6. Political Behaviors or Political Influence tactics and their impact on Work Attitudes, Work Outcomes & Organization:
The use of different influence tactics like superior focused or job focused influence tactics have differing impacts on procedural justices evaluations. This describes that these influence tactics have different impact on the relationship between supervisor and subordinate. Supervisor focused influence tactics are much more effective than job focused influence tactics because they enhance the image of the subordinate; whereas job focused influence tactics lower the image and influence of the subordinate over the supervisor.
There exists the support that influence tactics are employed when voice opportunity is low. Either job focused or supervisor focused influence tactics are used as an alternative means of voice. The opportunity for formal voice is indicative of group status. Low voice opportunity is predictive of lower status within the group and poor relation with the group authority figure; and hence high use of influence tactics.
Individuals who perceive that it's necessary to employ job focused influence tactics feels that it's due to poor or unfair performance evaluation procedures. Such individuals might also dislike the job influence tactics because they need to make their supervisors attentive to their performance.
Employees use supervisor focused influence tactics because of lower perceived decision control. Such tactics involve ingratiation and other tactics that enhance the relationship between the supervisors and subordinate and contribute to the sense of decision control by influencing the decision maker in the performance evaluation process. It's also noted that it strengthens the assessment of procedural justice among employees because it gives sense of control to the employees by employing superior focused influence tactics and in turn achieving relational enhancement with the supervisor.
In contrast, the decision control and job influenced tactics are negatively related. It suggests that the increased use of these tactics by the employees of low level decision control further lowers their sense of control and hence it leads towards the lower evaluation of procedural justice. It happens because these self focused strategies are considered by the supervisors as hostile and therefore these tactics don't contribute towards the relationship enhancement between supervisor and subordinate. (Dulebohn & Ferris, 1999)
Harrell-Cook (1998) proposed that the negative impact of perceptions of organizational politics can be minimized by getting into political behavior that can help the workers to cope up with the political atmosphere and hence they can alleviate the adverse affects of the organizational politics. He examined that the political behaviors that employees get into are self promotion and ingratiation. Self promotion behaviors' objective is to get attention of the individual, that individual is the one whose attention is required by the employee engaging in political behavior. This particular behavior helps the individual to portray an image of a competent individual. The competence is shown through various cues that include trying to be self confident, focusing the attention towards their self appointed achievements and by displaying those acts and behaviors which are supposed to be appreciated by the target individual. All these behaviors are adopted with the perspective of influencing the target individual to assume that the individual is able and a devoted worker. Ingratiation behavior is displayed by providing attention to the targets views and judgments, expressing compliance with the target's principles and ideals, praising and passing flattery comments to the target. The individuals who want to continue with their organization and experience job dissatisfaction but also don't want to get involved in political behaviors to larger extent and keep their political behaviors low end up engaging in withdrawal behaviors that are usually absenteeism and avoidance to deal with highly charged political atmosphere.
For the employees who don't want to participate in workplace politics through political behaviors and political influence strategies and consider it as against their goals and interests, organizational politics have emotional impact on them. These emotional reactions to politics are higher level of stress and job burnout. Such employees in politically charged organizations build up in themselves the emotional disaffection and hostility from work; this is the consequence of workplace politics and inequity in the organizational climate. Their mental state possibly directs towards stress, nervous tension, and job burnout, and all this can contribute towards the hurtful behavior; one of the responses of this is the aggressive behavior towards others (colleagues and supervisors). Aggressive behaviors are unfavorable for the organizational climate as they take the form of verbal assaults and can get aggravated to an extent of a physical attack or pure violence. Vigoda (2002) model suggests that politics leads towards the weakening of organization and contributes towards the instability and low productivity of the organization, if and when politics exceeds certain intensity.
The political influence tactics of reason and assertiveness were time and again related to work attitudes. Christiansen, Villanova & Mikulay (1996 ) discovered that supervisor's use of assertiveness is negatively related to work attitudes whereas the use of reason (i.e. cautiously giving the rationale for asking what was desired, using logic to influence the other person, providing that information which supports influencer's, etc) is positively correlated to the work attitudes. Hence political environment inclined towards more use of reason and less use of assertiveness is associated with positive work attitudes.
The use of reason or rationale as a political influence strategy is correlated with positive work attitudes; even if the rate of recurrence of these attempts is frequent and high in the work place climate. The workplace environment is perceived to be balanced, unbiased, having open decision making surroundings and possessing procedural fairness because of the more use of reason as a political influence tactic. But rationale might be used for both just and unfair practices in the organization. The employees do support some of the political influence attempts even when the intention behind them is serving their self interests.
The employees endorsed the use of ingratiation (i.e. acting in a friendly style or be humble or make target of request feel good etc) as a political influence tactic favorable to work attitude i.e. the use of ingratiation is positively related to the satisfaction with promotion opportunities. This could be due to that coercive political tactics are probably not easy to act out and perform; therefore ingratiation is the only alternative available to materialize to influence promotion decisions. The individuals, who survive the system and also feel satisfied with this system where advancements can be gained through ingratiation, are probably the ones who are victorious in gaining promotion through ingratiation because they are aware of the system and in command of the system. Higgins (2003) explored that these two influence tactics (i.e. ingratiation and rationality) are strongly and positively related to work outcomes like performance assessment and extrinsic success (e.g. salaries and promotions etc); though his study revealed that ingratiation is more strongly related to performance assessment than extrinsic success, the reason probably is that performance assessment directly gets its impact from employees behavior. The possible reason that ingratiation and rationality also impact the extrinsic success is that they are largely based on the performance assessment and hence employees get benefits in terms of pay and promotion because they influence the performance assessment by displaying these two influence tactics; the impact is possibly indirect through the influence on the performance assessment. This shows that employees who display more of these two influence tactics i.e. ingratiation and rationale flourish more in their career as compared to those employees who don't adopt these political influence strategies.
The combined political climate (consisting of coalition formation, assertiveness, ingratiation, upward appeals reason and exchange) is related to intra-organization conflict, trust in management and intention to turnover. This implies that political climate, irrespective of any political influence tactic, impacts these work attitudes. However Christiansen, Villanova & Mikulay (1996) discovered that the strongest relationship exists between the political dimensions and work attitudes regarding the conflict in the work environment and trust in management. The workplace climate that shows signs of more coalition formation, assertiveness, upward appeals and exchange is negatively related to favorable work attitudes. These political influence strategies are not rationale and are more inclined towards the coercive political manipulation. The assertive political strategy through the expression of anger or display of forceful approach or having a war of words with someone faces to face etc, negatively correlates with favorable work attitudes. Voyer (1994) also discovered the political behavior that was present in his sample was coercive in nature. The effect of the coercive politics though did not directly influence the organizational performance but the action was not in support of the organization. The consequences of the politics were subtle; the politics affected technical and commercial success by affecting the management quality, product definitions and schedules. The coercive political action directly and deadly infected the morale though it did not deliberately choose the channel to do so. The lethal politics affected the morale of the members of the organization by affecting the organizational performance. The coercive politics badly affects the framework of strategy formulation;by hurting the management, product definition and schedules; and hence in a roundabout way ruin the organizational goals and outcomes.
The coalition formation (as an influence tactic) nature hampers the performance of the employees in the workplace climate; it shows the strongest correlation with the intention to leave. The coalitions and groupings (gathering together with other people in the department to help exert pressure and influence, getting support from subordinates and co-workers ) can give tough time to new comers because they have few power sources and slight idea of prevalent political affiliations. (Christiansen, Villanova & Mikulay, 1996)
Higgins( 2003) found that the assertiveness is negatively correlated with the performance assessment, whereas it is positively related to extrinsic success (e.g. salaries and promotions); hence assertiveness as an influence tactic behaves differently with both the work outcomes, the possible reason could be that employees use assertive behavior when they ask for pay raises and try for advancement opportunities; therefore they get rewards that are beyond their actual performance that is reflected in their performance ratings.
The coercive political tactics appear to be in conflict with the balance and impartial framework of Human Resource Management; these tactics can lead to massive distrust, alienation and feeling of injustice among employees. The organizations that keep up their standardized procedures, systems and practices regarding staffing, selection and keeping organizational members in the fullness of time; these organizations are successful in passing on the homogeneity and restricting the inconsistency in the beliefs and value system of the members. (Christiansen, Villanova & Mikulay, 1996)
Zahra (1987) suggested through the findings of the study that the organizational politics has the bearing over the strategic process as well as performance of the company. The intensity of the organizational politics i.e. the executives' insight of the degree of firm's political behavior shows negative correlation with agreement pertaining to organizational mission. The political tactics badly affect quality of communication and coordination between units and departments of the organization and also discourages the effective appraisal of departmental goal accomplishment. The level or intensity of organizational politics also creates difference of opinion and clashes among key executives regarding corporate goals and therefore negatively affects the understanding of long term plans. Hence organizational politics negatively impact overall performance of the company.
On the other hand, there is another interesting aspect of organizational politics and its intensity in the organization that has been proved through empirical finding (Zahra, 1987). The intensity of the organization politics has positive influence on the effectiveness of the choice of the strategy. This can be explained as top managers, while allocating resources, make a cautious effort in selecting the proposal. Top managers also show vigilance when various groups in the firm have conflicting goals and perspectives. This organizational politics, in short, leads to weighing pros and cons of alternative course of actions.
The organizational politics is found to be positively related to some of the very important strategic variables that are excellence in long term planning, efficient strategy selection, and effective distribution of resources among the firms' divisions and effective strategy implementation.
The key managers' involvement in the organizational politics doesn't become much relevant in affecting the strategic variables and company performance unless the political climate and organizational politics intensity prevails in the organization.
7. Implications and Conclusions:
It is hence concluded by looking at the literature and recent findings that organizations politics has disruptive effects on the organizational productivity. It hurts the dimensions of contextual performance that is necessary for overall performance of the organization. The impact of organizational politics affects both job dedication and interpersonal facilitations that are desired workplace behaviors and benefit the organization in the short and long run. If the workplace environment is politically charged, employees get influenced in both emotional and social aspects of his work life. Their findings suggest that even personality traits of the employees, for example being conscientiousness can't save the employees from the disruptive effects of political climate.
It is very evident that supervisors having devoted employees complemented by the favorable interpersonal relationships have the advantage to discuss strategic and tactical issues and don't get diverted and sidetracked from their work due to intra-organizational conflict that arises out of organizational politics
However if organization wants to undergo revolution to cope up with the circumstance that promotes organizational politics, it should hire such people that don't surrender to organizational politics; one such behavior is agreeableness; highly agreeable people don't give in to politics and agreeable behavior promotes interpersonal facilitations required to work cohesively in the organization with coworkers and managers.
Organizational politics can also impact job satisfaction; the above literature findings suggest that employees try to get engaged in the political behaviors because they want to defend themselves in the politically charged work climate. The political influence strategies i.e. ingratiation and self promotion are used to deal with the workplace politics.
Employees who don't indulge in political behaviors develop alienation from work or suffer from absenteeism. Another research finding (Harrell-Cook, 1998) suggest that effects of organizational politics are dysfunctional. These dysfunctional effects are very harmful for the individual outcomes and hence organizational outcomes are badly affected. There are huge costs attached to turnover, absenteeism and avoidance attitudes that employees use as a defensive mechanism to cope up with the organizational politics. This also affects the profitability of the organization.
The organization where people are dissatisfied with their jobs, show disaffection from their work and don't attend to their duties regularly; such organization would experience low productivity and its competitive standing would be affected. Political behaviors alter the decisions of HRM department by promoting those employees who can display political behaviors in a skillful manner. At times, this leads to promoting such employees who are not competent and hence organizational productivity and effectiveness can get damaged badly.
The coercive political actions affect the morale of the employees and hence ruin the organizational goals and performance. The organizational politics is promoted due to the lack of good quality management practices. The employees try to keep their enthusiasm low related to job performance to avoid politics.
This can be deadly for organization because employees with low morale and enthusiasm lead to low organizational productivity. Higher politics lead to lower politics but this phenomenon also damages the productivity of employees in the course of time.
Organizational politics is practiced through political influence strategies; these political tactics manipulate the actions and assessment of managers and supervisors. Promotion opportunities and extrinsic successes are achieved through the display of ingratiation and rationale political behaviors. It is possible because the employees manipulate the performance assessment and ratings of their supervisors by practicing ingratiation and rationality.
Assertiveness has negative effect on work attitudes and performance assessment; it is positively related to extrinsic successes because this political behavior helps employees to benefit from pay raises and promotions and such advantage which they don't deserve through their actual performance assessment.
Hence the coercive political tactics like coalition formation, assertiveness, upward appeals and exchanges can pollute the organizational atmosphere; the result of these political strategies can impact employees' value and belief system. The employees can develop disaffection from the organization due to unfairness prevalent in the workplace climate.
Organizational politics can lead to job distress or burnout; aggressive behaviors in the form of verbal assaults and physical aggression are also the response of organizational politics. All these implications of organizational politics lead towards the weakening of the organizational structure and hence it contributes towards instability and low productivity of the organization.
Supervisors should better be acquainted with their employees, who are deficient in job dedication and interpersonal facilitations, the two dimensions of contextual performance, in order to help them and figure out the reasons behind so that their contextual performance is improved. It is necessary that the supervisor behave cooperatively towards these employees and don't give up on them. Supervisors who know the means to encourage dedicated work behaviors save and utilize time and effort and that can be used to increase productivity of the organization.
The political climate particularly has its impact on the voluntary and dedicated work behaviors that are generally desired and favorable for the organizations; these work behaviors like supporting and promoting constructive work atmosphere, coping up with difficulties without showing irritability, working together with supervisors as well as co-workers, safeguarding organizational resources, proposing solutions to problems, extending support and help to colleagues and the organization in time of need. Hence the manager needs to be aware of the interaction between political climate (environment), personality (individual) and job dedication and interpersonal facilitations (behavioral); it is necessary for managers to closely study their employees and at the same time do exercise the preventive measures required to have control over the perceived political climate. Managers can encourage greater amount of contextual performance and can make procedures to curtail organizational politics; for example engaging the employees in decision making processes, this would provide the employees satisfactory and adequate information and reasons behind some of the organizational decisions; this effort can result in reducing the uncertainty and producing workplace climate that is favorable for advantageous work behaviors.
Organizational politics results in reduced corporate spirit which is required in team work. Political behaviors reduce harmonization and cooperation because it is naturally competitive and disruptive. Large numbers of organizations are heading for and incorporating flattened organizational structures and self-directed work groups for which cooperation is required but if organizations are going to be highly politically charged, this transformation would not reap benefits.