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Assessing The Political Climate

It seems as though every time I watch the news, in the United States, the emphasis is politics. This caused me to wonder; What role does organizational politics play in leading organizational change? There are two schools of thought. First, the idea that organizational change is best accommodated by working to lessen politics in the organization. This philosophy is embraced by Easterby-Smith and Araujo as they argue: that “good learning takes place in a climate of openness where political behavior is minimized”. I am not sure that this is not an idealistic view that borders on being unrealistic. The truth is, no matter how we feel about it, politics are a part of every organizational structure. A second school of thought is that organizations are inherently political and that it is important to recognize this. Bolman and Deal contend that organizations can be seen as coalitions of various individuals and interest groups and assert that: “Organizational goals, structure and policies emerge from an ongoing process of bargaining and negotiation among major interest groups”. Perhaps we could better facilitate change by looking to the political nature of structures within the organization and implementing action steps that are more effective in that particular political climate. This viewpoint would hold that it would be better to incorporate politics into organizational learning, rather than to eradicate it. What do you think?


Bolman, L. G. and Deal, T. E. (1997) Reframing Organizations. Artistry, choice and leadership, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (Pg. 175)

Easterby-Smith, M. and Araujo, L. (1999). Organizational Learning and the Learning Organization. London: Sage. (Pg. 13)