Political Aspects of Organizations

Chang, Rosen, and Levy (2009) state, organizational politics are widespread and affect the employees’ performance and resources allocation. Employees’ use of politics depends on the work situations, workplace, and type of goal they want to achieve (Bodla & Danish, 2009). Organizational politics will have positive results when used with good intentions to achieve important tasks. Bodla and Danish (2009) state that organizational politics are important for the organizational life and these politics affect the employees differently. Organizational politics has a negative effect when the employees misuse the politics. Employees who understand and control these politics respond less negatively, so employees should be aware of the politics and its effect on the organizations. Bolman and Deal (2008) explain that some groups have more access to decision makers and can take advantage of this closeness.The following discussion will develop organizational model to govern the organizational culture, climate, internal, and external stakeholders, and human capital issues. The model will discuss the difficulties in working with international teams and suggest a guideline for the organizational leadership to morally and ethically approach the international teams’ problems.

Organizational Culture

Organizational politics are defined as the study of power in action and the employee’s perceptions of these politics is more important than the politics (Chang et al., 2009).  Bowditch et al. (2008) describe organizational politics as socially acceptable ways to balance the employees’ individual and shared interests. Employees who understand and control these politics respond less negatively. Organizations are not free of politics because organizational politics is another power used by the managers and the employees to support or supplement their legitimate and personal powers. Leaders can use their political powers positively to uphold the organizational values, but leaders can use the same power negatively for personal interest. Negative reinforcement and punishment can be effective in driving the workers behavior but can have long-lasting negative affect on the organizational behavior. The negative reinforcement can be replaced by positive reinforcement that has a long-lasting positive effect on the organizational behavior. Motivation is defined as the processes that provoke, direct, and preserve human behavior toward attaining the organizational goals (Kini & Hobson, 2003). Motivation and positive use of political power is always recommended for the organization’s health.

Work culture is a mix of the organizational values and beliefs (Lam, 2009). The organization culture is a pattern of assumptions invited or discovered by the workers in the organization to overcome the problems and challenges coming from external sources or faced internally (Lam, 2009). Zheng, Yang, and McLean (2010) state that human nature are the norms and values that governs the employees behavior. Organization culture, according to Edewor and Aluko (2007), is the “assumptions, values, norms and tangible signs (artifacts) of organization’s members and their behaviors” (p. 189). The leader should be able to integrate the followers’ activities after he groups them in coherent teams (Yukl, 2006).

Organizational Climate

Multinational organizations would probably transfer its culture and best practices to the countries where it chooses to operate in. Transferring the knowledge to subsidiaries, international branches, and franchises will help the multinational organization to save time and effort in communications and performance (Mostyn, 2004). The standardization in the business processes will ensure consistency in the production and its quality, however, robust processes are needed to reach this level of alignment (Mostyn, 2004). Collective knowledge creation, trust-base collaborations and the multinational organization’s willingness to collaborate is the success factor to knowledge sharing and best practice implementation (Miesing, Kriger, & Slough, 2007).

One of the major problems in the cross-cultural communication is ethnocentrism, which occurs when a member of certain culture believes his culture, and values are superior to the others (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008). Another problem is parochialism, which is believing that one’s cultural ways are the only way to do things (Schermerhorn et al., 2008). One can overcome the difficulties in cross-cultural communication by selecting one common language for the official communication. The expected difficulties from the nonverbal communication can be minimized by relaying on the written communications (e-mails, procedures, guidelines).

Internal and External Stakeholders

Davey (2008) define organizational politics as “the daily process through which the abstractions of power and organization are experienced” (p. 651). Organizational politics is considered a compromising art between the organizational interests (Bowditch et al., 2008). Bowditch et al. (2008) describe organizational politics as a socially acceptable way to balance the employees’ individual and shared interests. Managers use their legitimate power to maintain the organization’s operations and achieve their tasks, but they may use the political influence when the legitimate power fails (Bowditch et al., 2008).

Internal stakeholders are the employees, managers, and shareholders (Antonakis, Ciancolo, & Steinberg, 2004). Most of their interests would be salaries, bonuses, position power, job security and job satisfaction.  The important external stakeholders are suppliers, customers, government, and community (Antonakis et al., 2004). Most of their interests are employment, taxes, fair competition, and valuable products in exchange for their money. The leader should state the internal stakeholders’ responsibilities and duties to ensure that internal stakeholders know their obligations (Bolman & Deal, 2008). The leader needs good communication skills like listening, encouraging, facilitating, and providing sufficient clarification when needed (Bolman & Deal, 2008).  Possible conflict between the internal and external stakeholders can be the benefits each stakeholder is expecting. The main benefit can end being monetary benefit. Internal stakeholders need return on their investment and salaries. The external stakeholders need more value (money) in exchange for their services, goods, and money paid for the products they are buying.

Human Capital Issues

Organizational politics is more vigilant when the organization goes through ambiguity and goal complexity (Chendroyaperumal, 2008). The employees’ expertise may not help them in such obscurity so they rely on politics to go though the difficult situations. Bodla and Danish (2009) stress on the organizational politics importance for the organizational life. The negative effect of organizational politics happens when the employees misuses politics. Politics can achieve what the group could not do by legitimate power.

Organization classical theory starts by summing up the total amount of work required then divides it into divisions and departments. The departments are divided into sections and assignments for the employees to work (Newstrom & Davis, 2002). However, work quality is not addressed in such simple work distribution. Political power sometimes overrides quality when short-term targets take higher priority. The leaders realize that the organization is a coalition of stakeholders’ interests. The stakeholders have different values, beliefs, and perceptions of reality (Bolman & Deal, 2008). The leader should understand the stakeholders’ differences during his or her plan formulation and source allocations (Bolman & Deal, 2008). The leader should identify which stakeholder is more important to influence, negotiate, and bargain to formulate the most suitable plans that could address their expectations (Bolman & Deal, 2008). The leader needs political skills like agenda setting, organizational mapping, networking, building supportive coalitions, negotiations, and moral behaviors (Bolman & Deal, 2008).

International Teams

Cultural differences between two countries like China and the United Sates affect their business relationship and international representations. Cultural differences are considered as one of the main reasons for work stress and management conflicts during business relationship development in the United States and China (Li, 2009). In the United States, formal meetings and open discussion are the best interactions for business relationships development. Firm personal relationship and internal harmony are equally important for the Chinese to develop business relationships (Li, 2009).

Most of the difficulties in managing multicultural teams are resided in the cultural diversities and time difference, which mainly lead to miscommunication (Chitakornkijsil, 2009). Culture evolves with time as the workers integrate into an effective group and adapt to the external environment efficiently to carry on their work (Edewor & Aluko, 2007). Organization culture, according to Edewor and Aluko (2007), is the “assumptions, values, norms and tangible signs (artifacts) of organization’s members and their behaviors” (p. 189). Cultural issues are influenced by team members’ trust that bonds the team and forms a healthy culture.

Nemiro (2004) states that trust originates from the team members’ believe in each other’s expertise. Tapscott and Williams (2008) suggest that transparency is the best cure for mistrust if mistrust is anticipated or prone to happen between team members. The team’s creativity and performance strengthen the teams’ trust to meet their targets and the sense of responsibility they display. Team creativity is established when the leader encourages: “1) acceptance of ideas and constructive tension; 2) challenges; 3) collaboration; 4) freedom; 5) management encouragement; and 6) sufficient resources and time” (Nemiro, 2004, p. 5).

When the conflict is with someone who holds authority, the Chinese avoid confrontation because they believe that direct approach with the boss will ruin their relationship with him (Johnston & Gao, 2009). Cultural diversity has two dimensions; the first consists of age, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual affection orientation that mold the workers self-image and fundamental worldview. The second dimension manipulates the workers self-esteem and definition because it consists of “educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, religious belief” (Edewor & Aluko, 2007, p. 190). Edewor and Aluko, (2007) suggest the following guidelines to overcome multicultural differences at the workplace:

  1. Leaders should set themselves as a good example, and address myths, stereotype, and cultural differences.
  2. Communicate in writing the rules that forbid prejudice and discriminatory behaviors.
  3. Offer training courses, or embed training material in existing courses that address multicultural differences and the benefits of these differences.
  4. Recognize individual differences and note that some individuals may view the following differently: authority, acceptance of power dissimilarity and desire for neatness and organization.
  5. Seek input from minority groups to break the glass ceiling and show importance to the minority groups.
  6. Revamp reward systems to reinforce the importance of effective diversity management.
  7. Sponsor and encourage social events that mix teams like cruise ship trips and getaways for global teams and picnics and Christmas parties for domestic teams.
  8. Uphold flexible work environment that enable individuals to work according to their needs.
  9. Check the organizations policies and practices to ensure good environment for all employees.

Leader’s Moral and Ethical

The basic components for ethical decision-making are moral issues, recognition, making moral judgment and engaging in moral behavior (Ingram, Skinner, & Taylor, 2005). These components help setting up an ethical international operation that account for cultural, religious, national, gender, and racial differences. Organizations should study the country’s local culture and religion and discover how the culture and religion can affect the new business. If the business is established in the international market then organization needs to assess the effect of the existing business from the environmental, religious, and cultural aspects and make sure their compliance to the findings. Deviating from the ethical standard would lead to social and economic conflict with the locals. The organization should assess the deviation before moving in any direction to avoid legal actions. Deviations are allowed when the benefits from the deviations are outweighing the losses from the ethical operation. The ethical issues and the ideas of being right or wrong are governed by the religious, cultural or professional value base believes as stated by O’Donohue and Nelson (2009).

Ethics in the organizational behavior perspective is the set of fundamental values the organization upholds and uses to take actions (Elango, Paul, Kundu, & Paudel, 2010).These values and behaviors will govern the organizational ethical practices. One of the leaders’ important tasks is to maintain these values and behaviors. The organization moves toward an ethical culture only if it understands the full range of values and behaviors needed to meet its ethical goals (Gebler, 2006). The leaders should demonstrate a sense of right versus wrong, and concern for others. These leaders are leading by example to help the organization enforce the ethical behaviors (Angus-Leppan, Metcalf, & Benn, 2010).

Conclusion

In an individualistic environment, the individual may participate in accomplishing the organizational goals but the same individual may deceive his or her colleagues to work on his or her personal goals (George, Marett, & Giordano, 2008). Teamwork is accomplished by collaboration and cooperation, but deception is the preferred method for the individuals to achieve their personal goals (George et al., 2008). The collective organization  evaluate the individuals by their contribution to the organizations rather than the way they accomplish their personal goals (George et al., 2008).

The developed organizational model is appropriate to govern the organizational culture, climate, internal, and external stakeholders, and human capital issues. The model argues the difficulties in working with international teams and suggests a guideline for the organizational leadership to morally and ethically approach the international teams’ problems.

References

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