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Organizations as Political Systems - Outline for Paper

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Management and Organizational Behavior

The case for this module calls for you to look at an exercise in "leadership" and then analyze it in terms of its context, its execution, and its consequences. As we noted in the introduction to the module, leadership is not often considered to be a political problem, but it certainly makes sense to consider it in this context, since the political environment of the organization constitutes the critical background within which any leader's efforts must be conducted. Leadership is a political effort, and mobilizes in its service all the formal and informal resources available to those charged with it. For elaboration on these observations, please see:
Leadership and organizational politics. ALAGSE. http://www.alagse.com/leadership/l3.php
In order to place this within a larger political context, however, is most useful for you to start by reviewing this excellent summary of issues in organizational politics:
Wilf Ratzburg, Defining Organizational Politics [Obnotes.Htm: available at http://web.archive.org/web/20080216010425/http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/1650/htmlpolitc01.html
You're going to need access to some of the vocabulary of leadership analysis, both for this case and for your future work. The following is an adequate general summary, cast in a largely nonacademic frame but still reflecting the academic analysis of leadership. (The optional readings and supplementary material contain considerable additional supporting material on leadership analysis if you would like to dig further into this aspect of the case).
Clark, D. (N.D.) Leadership Styles. http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadstl.html
Ronald Clement has written an interesting analysis of the relationship between power, leadership, and our new friend --- organizational culture. He describes three companies that all faced a need to change, and had to mobilize various kinds of power and leadership to do so.
Clement, RW (1994) Culture, leadership, and power: the keys to organizational change. Business Horizons. Retrieved May 16, 2010, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1038/is_n1_v37/ai_14922916/

Case Assignment
Read the Clement article in light of the material that you have read on organizational leadership and politics, supplemented if you wish with material from the optional readings and perhaps the supplementary background as well, and even other outside reading you might find by yourself to be useful. Then write a short paper describing how the exercise of leadership depends on understanding the politics of the organization.
Case Assignment Expectations
Your paper should be short (4-6 pages, not including cover sheet and references) and to the point. You are expected to deal with these issues in an integrated fashion, rather than treating them as a series of individual questions to be answered one by one and left at that. To help guide your thinking, however, you will need to consider issues such as:
? Summing up the key lessons of the Clement article in no more than 3-6 sentences.
? To what degree does Clement's analysis distinguish among the three companies? Are there areas where you see his advice as the same across situations?
? Are there any differences in the time frames or other context features of the situations described that might affect your conclusions about the relationship of politics to leadership??
? Summarize your overall thoughts on the management of power in social relationships, the balance of personal vs. organizational responsibility for doing this management, and the relationship of this management (that is, politics) to leadership (please note -- there's no "one right answer" here, but when you've stated your conclusions, remember that you need to back up your argument with facts).
? What, if anything, does thinking about an "organization as a political system" add to what we have learned by thinking about an "organization as a machine", an "organization as an organism", an "organization as a brain", and an "organization as a culture"?

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Provided is an outline to work with. Also included is the websites of the references used.

Politics in organizations, like in the world of politics, most often depends on power and its use within the organization. Not all managers or management is leaders. Leaders are those who have worked through the cultural system of the organization as can now apply their knowledge to create a power that makes people want to follow.
In Clement's article (1994), there is much discussion about the organization's culture. This discussion often focuses on changes and the need for change. Leaders are those who can make change happen and as one reads it in the article, this is not accomplished at the highest levels of the company. Coalitions or teams of people can create change and it is the leaders within the team creating the desire for acceptance of changes. Clement points out those organizations need to use the existing culture and work the change through this. There not only needs to be leadership, but also the leadership needs to take the most viable form to make the changes happen.
Politics in companies tend to drive the direction of the company. Large companies, like elites in society are slow to change. This is because those with the power do not want change to affect their power. The people in organizations align themselves with those they hope will keep them in power and support them when they need it. ...

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