Power, Politics, Conflict:

Power, Politics, Conflict:

Organisations are complex, and there are several issues that we have to address in managing them well. Power, politics, conflict are interrelated issues.

  1. Power

Formal power

Coercive power – A manager can coerce a person on the threat of warning, cutting of pay, holding of promotions, etc.

Reward power – A manager can reward a person and therefore, he gains power over the subordinates because the subordinate is willing to accept the orders of the manager to gain the reward.

Legitimate power – This comes because of the position and the belief that some things are supposed to be done when told by a person in that position.

Information power – This is derived from access to and control over information.

Personal power

Expert power – Here, a person is able to control or influence another person because of possessing knowledge, experience, or judgment that the other person lacks, but needs.

Rational persuasion – Rational persuasion is the ability to control another’s behavior by using logical arguments.

Referent power – Referent power refers to the ability of a leader to influence a follower because of the follower’s loyalty, respect, friendship, admiration, affection, or a desire to gain approval.

Charismatic power – Charismatic power is based on the leader’s exceptional personal qualities or the demonstration of extraordinary insight and accomplishment, which inspire loyalty and obedience from the followers.


Organisational politics refers to the use and manipulation of situations, power, and people to secure their position and gain from the situation. It may be done by letting others down and by increasing their own power, image, and status within the organisation. The results or the benefits can be tangible or intangible, depending upon the situation.


Groups are opposing each other with mutually opposing actions and counter actions

Each group attempts to create a relatively favoured position vis-a-vis the other

Types of Conflict

Conflict can be classified in many ways. Some of the classifications are discussed below:

Based on utility of conflict

The traditional view is that all conflicts are dysfunctional and hinders performance. The human relations view believes that conflict is a natural occurrence in all groups and organisations that it cannot be eliminated and may even contribute to group performance.

Outcomes of Conflict              Positive Negative
1. Leads to new ideas 1.


Diverts energy from work
2. Stimulates creativity 2.


Threatens psychological well-being
3. Motivates change 3.


Wastes resources
4. Promotes organizational vitality 4.


Creates a negative climate


5. Helps individuals and groups establish identities 5.


Breaks down group cohesion
6. Serves as a safety valve to indicate problems 6. Can increase hostility and aggressive behaviours

Source: SMU 

Based on choice

Based on choice we have:

Approach – approach conflict which occurs when a person must choose between two positive and equally attractive alternatives. For example, choosing between a valued promotion in the organisation and a desirable new job with another firm.

Avoidance – avoidance conflict which occurs when a person must choose between two negative and equally unattractive alternatives. For example, being asked either to accept a job transfer to another town in an undesirable location or to have one’s employment with an organisation terminated.


Based on parties involved

Conflict can be intrapersonal (within the person) and no others are involved or Interpersonal. Let us now discuss these two types of conflicts in detail.

 Intrapersonal – A person may suffer intrapersonal conflict for various reasons. They are:

Cognitive conflict – An intellectual discomfort created by trying to achieve incompatible goals.

Affective conflict – Occurs when emotions are incompatible with the goals. For example, the need to smile at the customers after a sad event at home.

Inter-role conflict – Occurs when a person experiences conflict among the multiple roles in his or her life. For example, role of a mother and role of an executive secretary who gets home late or role of a union leader supported by the management and the role to defend a worker from abuse of the management.

Intra-role conflict – This is conflict within a single role. It often arises when a person receives conflicting message from role senders (the individuals who place expectations on the person) about how to perform a certain role. For example, the company policy defines high standards of ethics but the role occupant is asked by the manager to offer a bribe to get a sanction.

Person-role conflict – Occurs when an individual in a particular role is expected to perform behaviours that clash with his or her values. For example, salespeople may be officially required to offer the most expensive item in the sales line first to the customer, even when it is apparent that the customer does not want or cannot afford the item. This may conflict with the salesperson’s values or past experience, and he or she may experience person-role conflict.

Inter-individual or interpersonal conflict – When two individuals disagree about issues, actions, or goals and the outcomes are important to both, there is inter-individual conflict.

 Managing Conflict

There are five styles of managing conflict.


Conflict-handling Style


Appropriate Situation

Competing 1. When quick, decisive action is vital (e.g., emergencies).

2. On important issues where unpopular actions need implementing (e.g., cost cutting, enforcing unpopular rules, discipline).

3. On issues vital to company welfare when you know you are right.

4. Against people who take advantage of non-competitive behaviour.

Collaborating 1. To find an integrative solution when both sets of concerns are too important to be compromised.

2. When your objective is to learn.

3. To merge insights from people with different perspectives.

4. To gain commitment by incorporating concerns into a consensus.

5. To work through feelings that have interfered with a relationship.

Compromising 1. When goals are important but not worth the effort or potential disruption of more assertive modes.

2. When opponents with equal power are committed to mutually exclusive goals.

3. To achieve temporary settlements to complex issues.

4. To arrive at expedient solutions under time pressure.

5. 14. As a backup when collaboration or competition is unsuccessful.


Avoiding 1. When an issue is trivial or more important issues are pressing.

2. When you perceive no chance of satisfying your concerns.

3. When potential disruption outweighs the benefits of resolution.

4. To let people cool down and regain perspective.

5. When others can resolve the conflict more effectively.

6. When issues seem tangential or symptomatic of other issues.

Accommodating 1. When you find you are wrong to allow a better position to be heard, to learn, and to show your reasonableness.

2. When issues are more important to others than to you to satisfy others and maintain cooperation.

3. To build social credits for later issues.

4. To minimise loss when you are outmatched and losing.

5. When harmony and stability are especially important.

6. To allow employees to develop by learning from mistakes.

Source: SMU


Overview of Organization Behaviour of Management:

Lecture 1: Organization Behavior

Concept of Management:

To manage is to forecast   and to plan to organize to command to coordinate and to command, to coordinate and to control.                                                                                            {Henry Fayol }(1949)
Management is a multipurpose organ that manage a business and managers and manages worker &      work                                                                                                                                   (Peter F  Drucker )
Nature of Management:
(I)                 Social process
(II)               Multi-disciplinary
(III)             Integrated  process
(IV)             Universal  application
(V)               Continuous process
(VI)              Intangible  force
(VII)           Interactive  process
(VIII)          Result through others
(IX)             Science and art
Function of Management   (As per Henry Fayol 1949)
1.       Planning
2.       Organizing
3.       Commanding
4.       Coordinating
5.       Controlling
Modern Management  Function:
1.        Planning
2.        Organizing
3.       Leading
4.       Controlling
Managerial   role:
      A.       Informational  role:   Monitor, Discriminator, Spokesperson
B.      Interpersonal   role:   Figurehead   (symbolic head), Greeting visitors, Leader,  Liaison
C.      Decisional role:  Entrepreneur,  Disturbance Handler,  Resource Allocators
Managerial Skills:
1.       Conceptual skills
2.       Human skills

3.       Technical skills


Organizational Behavior – OB a field of study that investigate the impact that individuals `groups and

structure have on behavior within an organization (Robbins 2003 )

Levels of Analysis –

1. Individual levels

2. Group levels

3. Organizational Analysis

Historical Evolution of OB –

(a ) Adam smith – Wealth of nations (1776) it states that org and society would reap prom the division of


(b) Charles Babbage – On the economy of machining and manufacturer (1832) Charles highlights

the advantage of Adam Smith theory

(B) Classical era – (1900 -1930 ) Main contributors –

1 Frederick Taylor

2 Henri fayol

3 Max weber

4 Marry Parker Follet

5 Chester Bernued


Scientific management

Father of modern mgmt

Wage plans

Right person right job right plan

Standardization of tools & technique

Work & time  study

Time & Motion study

Piece rate system : breaking down each task into smallest units

Henri fayol –

Book : General and industrial mgmt (1916)

14 principle of management

Administrative approach

Remuneralion of individual

Authority & Responsibility



Scalar chain

Unity of command

Unity of direction


Suborinalion of individual interest to general interest

Esprit of de corps


Division of work

Stability of tenure

Management Function –




Co – ordinating and Controlling

Organization area –

1 Technical

2 Commercial

3 Financial

4 Security

5 Accounting

6 Management

Max Weber –  Bureaucratic Theory

Theory is based on authority and relation. and he was pioneer in looking management as a structural viewpoint.

His theory is known as bureaucratic theory.

His ideal bureaucratic structure are:

a. Jurisdictional area

b. Org follows a hierarchical people

Human Relation Movementnt –

1 Follet ; focus on group ethics rather than individual. Manager’s work was to harmonize and coordinate group.

2 Chester Bernard – focus on fostering cooperation from various stakeholder such as employee, Investors, Suppliers etc .

3 –Elton Mayo – Founder af human relation movement.

Book – The social problem of an Industrial civilization (1933)

His Research; Haw thrown studies based on illumination of light that was based on worker’s behavior at western

electric (A T& T).

Fritz Roethlisbergu & W.J Dicksou were the first to publish Hawthrown experiment in (1937) & authored

management & worker in 1939 .

His findings – Informal social pattern af work group bring work satisfaction rather physical conditions or

financial incentives.

4- Dale Carnegie ; How to win friends & influence people

5 – Abraham Maslow ; the hierarchy theory

6 – Doughals Mc Greger ; theory X and theory Y

D . Behavioral Science Theorist ;

(a) B. F . Skinner ; Research on conditioning (Classical & operand)

(b) David Mc Clelland ; Theory of achievement

( c) Fred Fiedler ;

Focus on situational a sprit of leadership & developed comprehensive theory of leadership.

(d) Fredrick Herzberg ; Two Factor theory (Hygiene theory)

Contributing Disciplines to the OB Field ;

* Psychology:  A study that measures explain and change in behavior of humans and other animals (e.g. learning, motivation, perception, training )

*Sociology: A study of social system in which individual adjust itself .

*Social psychology: Focus on the influence of people on one-another it results behaviorl attitude

change and group decision .

*Anthropology; A study of societies to learn about human–beings and their activities which they work at

cultures and environment.

*Political Science ; Study of behaviour of individuals and group within  political environment. It focus on        conflicts power.


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