Organizational Behavior Theory

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Organizational Behavior Theories work to understand and describe the processes surrounding positive or negative behaviors within organizational hierarchy that are part of normal or rational behavior. The success of an induvial or group to influence the decision making process can be seen as a byproduct of organizational politics in a broader effort to accumulate power vertically or horizontally within the organizational structure. Political Behaviors, and the ability to influence decision making contribute to an individual or groups ability to gather internal power as an underlying activity and are a subset of Organizational Behaviors.

Organizational Politics

Organizational Politics are concerned with shaping or implementing the long-term goals, values or objectives of the organization and are a mechanism of administrative authority. Organizational politics is involved with actions, process or activities that directly or indirectly create organizational successes towards managements long-term objectives or goals. The communications or personal interactions that define political behavior are not associated with organizational politics and are generally not supported administratively within organizations.

Organizational political framework is intended to affect overall performance with the support of senior leadership or management fostering shared information or knowledge resources. Under normal conditions organizational politics do not create a level of internal power for individuals or groups and can be considered a normal function of Organizational Behavior or Relationships. Behavior that works to produce conflict or disharmony within the organization by placing individuals, groups, or departments against the organization can be considered self-promoting forms of Individual Politics.

Individual Politics

The objective of individual politics is to influence desired outcomes through the work of individuals or groups and may indirectly influence or promote “their own interest but do not help the organization or activities that are destructive to the organization” (Goltz, 2003 p. 356). Individual politics that are designed to accumulate power as a form of influence may include the following:

  • Authority games – Insurgency of employees and counter-insurgency by the organization.
  • Power base games – Form alliances or coalitions to control individuals, decisions or resources.
  • Rivalry games – Obvious control over the organization though influencing of staff.
  • Change games – Use of information leaking as an external form of control.

(Sinha, 2008)

The use of political behavior within an organization may have the desired outcome for the individual or group at the expense of the organization’s objectives or goals due solely to acquiring internal power. Individuals or groups may be able to acquire internal power through the use of political behavior in an effort to serve organizational interest and goals through the use of extraneous means that are also self-serving.

Political Behavior

Understanding and controlling organizational behavior requires the ability to define individual behavior while implementing an effective strategy to influence its intended or desired outcome (Clegg, Courpasson, & Phillips, 2006). Politics within an organization has the desired intent of consolidating power through the use of influence to change or direct organizational behavior. Individual political behavior within an organization is an attempt by individual or groups to influence desired outcomes towards self-interest (Goltz, 2003). Political behavior can be derived from unambiguous organizational objectives, scarce human or supply-side resources, and technological influences that are not well controlled or directed. Individuals or groups use opportunities to accumulate power through political behavior that can be used as a form of force to achieve specific agendas.

Creating Power

Accumulating power is concerned with finding an effective form of leverage within relationships to influence the decision making process or to shape and control change. Individual or group power is used to influence an agenda that is different than the organizations objectives or goals, power consisted of five sources:

  • Personal Power – An individual’s persuasive or charismatic abilities.
  • Position Power – Ability to make decisions that affect others.
  • Capability Power – Specialized skills or knowledge that are imperative.
  • Reward Power – Ability to administer or control specialized resources.
  • Coercive Power – Implied or actual ability to inflect punishment.

(Goetsch & Davis, 2016)

The power generated from access or close relationships to others with decision making authority remains the primary objective while influencing decisions in a personal direction. Individuals able to directly influence or control others decisions making abilities through direct or indirect influence may be able to change organizational goals or objectives, and could change the internal authority structure of the organization.

Organization Theories

There are three main organizational theories which help shape the organization and its individuals, configurational, cognitive, and cultural. The Configurational theory focuses mainly on the classification of the organization into types where the cognitive approach focuses on individuals and how they understand their organizational environment and lastly cultural theory focuses on anthropological, rather than a psychological, to improve understanding of the organization. The combination of these theories can lead to satisfaction of both the organization and employees while working to increase productivity or stability.

The configurational approach enables individuals to be assigned groups helping them identify tasks and makes sure services are directed toward the leader. Cognitive theory helps the individuals to understand the organizational environment so they can understand the rules and requirements to work within the organization effectively. Lastly cultural theory can be used to understand the subjective and symbolic cultural nuances of the work world. These three theories, when combined, allow the manager to help motivate and lead teams to increase efficiency and bonding while improving organizational and employee satisfaction.


Political behaviors can be characterized by self-interest but are not necessarily intent on self-interest, nor should this behavior be considered inherently bad, though it’s intent is exclusively to acquire and use power. When organizational objectives or goals are unclear, political behaviors can be used by individuals or groups to move the organization in a specific direction, demonstrating a lack of internal control. The effects of political behavior within work groups can have a negative effect on overall performance and when not curtailed the organization can be seen as lacking in leadership or direction (Goltz, 2003). While individual or group political behavior within organizations is not uncommon, it may lead to poor work environments or discontent that leadership should be aware of.

Political behavior is common in most organizations leading to internal divisions or building of coalitions that work to achieve individual objectives that may not be the primary goal or objectives of the organization. These individual or group objectives may be paramount to the success of the organization and not considered detrimental to achieving primary objectives. Internal political behavior may be ignored as part of normal interactions between employees if it’s actions are not producing any negative outcomes. Individuals or groups that can aligned both organizational and individual interests can serve the organization effectively, it is those that place individual or group interest above the organization that are disruptive, (Sinha, 2008).

Working for the railroad I see political behavior as common practice, individuals building coalitions in an effort to gain personal advancement or better working conditions, though each has personal intent, neither changes the long-term objectives of the organization. I see it neither as good or bad, only a aspect of work that must be dealt with, while building an understanding of each individuals main agenda, and if political efforts need or should to be mitigated. The main article used “Considering Political Behavior in Organizations” (Goltz, 2003), can be considered credible due to its inclusion as an article in a major journal, the use of credible sources as reference in the written material and its reference in college library searches. The article has been sighted in other journal articles lending additional credulity to its’ conclusions as both accurate and accepted.


  1. Clegg, S. R., Courpasson, D., & Phillips, N. (2006). Power and Organizations. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  2. Goetsch, D. L., & Davis, S. B. (2016). Quality Management for Organizational Excellence. Hoboken: Pearson Educaton, Inc.
  3. Goltz, S. M. (2003). Considering Political Behavior in Organizations. The Behavior Analyst Today, 4(3), pp. 354 – 366.
  4. Sinha, J. B. (2008). Power and Politics. In J. B. Sinha, Culture and Organizational Behavior (pp. 215 – 240). New Delhi: SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd.

Cite this paper

Organizational Behavior Theory. (2021, Jul 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/organizational-behavior-theory/

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