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Every organization has a system of management that defines relationships linking functions and positions, responsibilities, and power to perform specific tasks. To put it differently, organizational structure enables flow of responsibility, authority and power. Basically, power involves the ability of someone to make another person do something whether he or she likes it or not. The fact that authority exists in the organization’s social structure makes it to be known as the source of power (Fairholm, 2009). This essay examines how politics and power play a major role in fuelling conflicts within an organization.

In particular, power has three facets which include decision making, ability to shape preferences and perception, and non decision making. Firstly, in the face of decision making members of the organization participate in decision making and their views are welcomed. On the contrary, non decision making facet involves a situation where people who have power make decisions alone and do not allow other less powerful people in the organization to participate in decision making. In addition, the ability to shape preferences and perception entails a situation where a person tries to treat others in a bad manner and limit their freedom (Fairholm, 2009).  Equally important, by managing how information flows in the organization, one can acquire power because information is power.

As a matter of fact, organizations consist of members who have different perceptions and objectives. This creates a situation where each and everyone want to achieve his or her objective leading to collisions. Primarily, politics occurs in the organization when people disagree due to diversity. In other words, if everyone agreed to a specific thing, politics would never occur in organizations. The diversity in organizations members where some members are more powerful than others creates a favorable environment for politics. Precisely, interests of different members of organization may collide, which causes politics as well as conflict consequently disrupting production (Fairholm, 2009). [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

There are various sources of power in an organization, which include, legitimate power, reward power, coercive power, expert power and referent power (Buchanan & Badham, 2008).  . Firstly, legitimate power comes with someone’s designation and is accepted within the organization, for example judiciary power. Secondly, rewards power involves capability of not only rewarding but also fulfilling the interests of other people. To illustrate, a manager is given power to give rewards such as promotion, pay and time off. On the other hand, coercive power means ability to punish another person. This category of power maintains discipline and good work flow in the organization. It involves demotion, suspension, fine and overtime.

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In particular, expert power entails the ability to influence members of the organization based on one’s superior skills, knowledge and expertise. This helps one to portray a good image to others and gain power and control over others. Moreover, referent power refers to a person’s image or interpersonal relationship among other personnel in the organization (Johns, 2011). Notably, this power is obtained inform of affection, love and respect and develops slowly, which enables one to build a likeable image to other members of the organization.

As a matter of fact, organizations create an enabling environment for people to exercise their power and distribute authority. Consequently, members who have motivation to acquire and use power are able to secure a hospitable and familiar environment in the organization (Raines, 2013). Precisely, organizational political structures provide opportunities for members to build up their careers, which create a platform for people to express their individual motive and interests. In particular, career development at professional and managerial levels depends on power acquisition, which enables one to transform his or her interests into actions that influence other members of the organization.[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

Politics in the organization emerge when members compete to accumulate power in a scarcity dominated economy (Vigoda-Gadot & Drory, 2006). To put it differently,   it is hard for organizational members to get the power they yearn for without working for it. As a result, they must decide on ways to distribute power and authority through a formal organizational structure. There are two conditions under which scarcity of power occurs. Firstly, it takes place when one acquires power at other people’s expense. Secondly, it happens when there is comparative gain of power, not necessarily at other people’s expense, which leads to a relative power distribution shift. In these two cases, people develop a mindset of scarcity and start comparing themselves.

Basically, an organizational member compares himself with other members and /or she may come to a decision that his or her shift in shares of authority shows a decrease in power on his or her part (Fairholm, 2009). Moreover, he or she may compare his or her position with others which may consequently trigger feelings of lack of power. Most compelling evidence, mergers and acquisitions show the effects of comparison in organizations. To demonstrate this, the manager of an acquired firm may decide to resign rather than accept a position where he or she cannot have the same power of serving as a manager. Moreover, in case of a merger the two assistant managers may vie for the position of the assistant manager. Due to the conflicting interests between the two assistant managers, frameworks may be put in place to make them equal in order to minimize competition between the two. Consequently, the assistant manager with the weaker authority and power may decide to resign due to constant comparison of his power with the other assistant manager.


As a matter of fact, organizations are like pyramids which generate positions scarcity with the top one high in the hierarchy (Vigoda-Gadot & Drory, 2006). Indeed, people have different potential and consequently more capable people are accorded the top positions followed with a pay and authority that is in line with their positions. On the contrary, people with the same potential to be accorded the same top positions may not take this kindly, which creates a sense of unfulfilled interests in some of them. This may translate into politics or even conflict in the organization.

There are various types of conflict that may occur in the organization. These include, conflict between the group and individual. This happens when a member who wants to stay in the group for social purposes disagrees with the goals of the group and strategies to realize the group’s goal (Van, 2005). Furthermore, Inter-organizational conflict is a dispute that may occur when organizations that depend on one another disagree on a common issue. For example, conflict between a leather producing company and a shoes company. Moreover, interpersonal conflict is a disagreement that may occur between two or more individuals (Van, 2005). Precisely, this conflict may occur not between same level employees, an employee and his manger and between a manager and his assistant.

As a matter of fact, conflict has positive and negative effects on the organization. Firstly, it allows for search of new resolutions and facts. To illustrate this, a conflict between two parties in the organization calls for conflict resolving solutions. During the search for the solutions the two parties are exposed to new facts and resolutions. Secondly, conflicts help to assess ability and power (Runde, & Flanagan 2013).To put it differently, it allows the ability and power of a particular member of the organization to be identified, which helps to show how a person is tackling conflict situations in the organizations. Furthermore, conflict promotes reflection and originality when one’s view is challenged (Runde, & Flanagan 2013).

On the contrary, conflict affects the organizations’ smooth running, which makes employees’ concentration on the work to be affected. Moreover, during times of conflict there is low cohesion among employees as individuals start to take sides. In addition, it leads to mental stress and trauma among employees. Equally important, conflict may lead to a situation where wrong decisions are made to support views of the conflicting parties (Coleman & Ferguson, 2014).In addition, conflict makes an organization to not only incur cost to cater for negotiations and meditations,  but also waste a lot of time on resolution which would otherwise be used for production purposes.

Without a doubt, conflict that occurs between leaders in the organizations may be very damaging based on the way management handles dispute in an organization (Coleman & Ferguson, 2014). Indeed, leaders may have varying expectations and assumptions, and different problem solving techniques. In other words, leaders in an organization may disagree on various matters and manage the situation with no adverse consequences to the organization. On the contrary, conflict between organizational leaders may become evident and affect the rest of the organization. This becomes clearer when employees who work for these leaders starts to transfer to other sections within the company and solutions to problems are avoided or delayed (Rahim, 2011).

Conflict resolution can be defined as a technique adopted to facilitate the reconciliation of people who had earlier disagreed on a common issue (Rahim, 2011). There are different methods of conflict resolutions. Firstly, Forcing also referred to as competing method is where an individual pursues his interests regardless of the other person’s objections. This method involves pushing one’s ideas against your opponents (Doherty & Guyler, 2008). In particular, forcing usually provides a faster solution to conflict and is usually adopted when all the other less competing techniques are ineffective. Nevertheless, this method may have negative effects on your relationship with the other party.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

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Collaborating is a conflict resolution method which entails combining efforts with the other party to come up with a win-win answer to the conflicting situation (Doherty & Guyler, 2008). Basically, this method aims at mutually satisfying the interests of both parties. Collaborating can be appropriate when there is a need for long term relationship between the parties. Most importantly, it leads to a situation where there is trust and respect between the two parties. In addition it creates a base for other collaborations in the future. Conversely, this method may not be appropriate when a quick solution is required.

Avoiding the conflict is when one chooses not to pursue his or her interests as well as those of the competing party (Coleman & Ferguson, 2014). To put it differently, this method involves side stepping or withdrawing from the conflict. This conflict resolution method is usually applied when the issue is insignificant and more crucial issues that deserve your attention are pressing. As a matter of fact, this method involves little or no stress and gives time and ability to concentrate on more crucial matters (Rahim, 2011). However, this method may make one to lose his or her position and withdrawal is usually seen as conformity.  [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

As a matter of fact, resolving conflict between leaders may be complex process in cases where the involved leaders do not want to be held responsible for the disagreements affecting the firm (Rahim, 2011). Moreover, conflict resolution process may be unpleasant hence many leaders try as much as possible not to admit that they are the cause. Precisely, resolving conflict between the organization’s leaders can be achieved by suspending the conflict by announcing a short break while a resolution for the conflict is investigated (Runde, & Flanagan 2013). Equally important, efforts should be made to analyze and understand the root cause of the dispute. Furthermore, there should be attempts to understand each leader’s style of communication, personality traits, and attitudes and how these may have contributed to the conflict. In addition, the involved leaders should try to admit their contribution to the conflict and acknowledge responsibility for their actions. Most importantly, there should be efforts to change certain attitudes, expectations and behaviors that are directly related to the conflict (Runde, & Flanagan 2013).

Although this may be true, leaders sometimes may require external assistance to help them in the process of conflict resolution. External conflict management may come in various ways including mediation, and arbitration and litigations (Van, 2005). Firstly, mediation involves a voluntary attempt by an impartial person also known as the mediator to promote communication and understanding between the conflicting parties. Basically, mediation aims at helping the parties to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. Nevertheless, the mediator does not force any agreement to the parties nor make a decision. In other words, the parties participate directly to negotiate their own agreement or settlement. Professionals in the field of law such as attorney may provide mediation at a fee.

Arbitration involves submission of the matter that is bringing disputes between the two parties to an independent person for decision making (Van, 2005). Typically, in this method, the arbitrator manages the conflict by listening to both parties and making final decisions. In this line, only one party wins while the other loses. The results of arbitration may unite the two parties if they have made an agreement to be bound by the arbitrator decisions. Following this, there is limited right to appeal the decision made by the arbitrator (Vigoda-Gadot & Drory, 2006).

Litigation entails use of the civil justice system in conflict resolution. Notably, this method is used to compel the opponent to take part in the solution (Vigoda-Gadot & Drory, 2006). Basically, litigation begins when a law suit is filled in a court of law. This method is usually adopted when all the other conflict management methods fail. In addition, the method is involuntary which means it is mandatory for defendants to participate. Most importantly, the decision is law-based and final.

In conclusion, politics and power are related and they form the axle through which individual and group activities revolve around. Members of the organization use power to meet their needs and acquire what they desire. On the other hand, organizational leaders use power to control the employees. This leads to a situation where there is conflict of interests in the organization as different people work toward achieving their goals. Indeed, disagreements and politics as people work towards getting top powerful positions occur, which results to conflicts in the organization. Conflict in the organization may be detrimental to production and measures of conflict resolutions must be put in place to resolve the different types of conflict.

Buchanan, D., & Badham, R. J. (2008). Power, Politics, and Organizational Change: Winning the Turf Game. London: Sage Publications

Coleman, P. T., & Ferguson, R. (2014). Making conflict work: Harnessing the power of disagreement. New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,

Doherty, N., & Guyler, M. (2008). The essential guide to workplace mediation & conflict resolution: Rebuilding working relationships. London: Kogan Page

Fairholm, G. W. (2009). Organizational power politics: Tactics in organizational leadership. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger/ABC-CLIO.

Johns, D. (2011). A New Conservation Politics: Power, Organization Building and Effectiveness. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons

Rahim, M. A. (2011). Managing conflict in organizations. New Brunswick [NJ: Transaction.

Raines, S. (2013). Conflict management for managers: Resolving workplace, client, and policy disputes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Runde, C. E., & Flanagan, T. A. (2013). Building conflict competent teams. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass

Van, G. B. (2005). Managing workplace conflict: Alternative dispute resolution in Australia. Annandale, N.S.W: Federation Press.

Vigoda-Gadot, E., & Drory, A. (2006). Handbook of organizational politics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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