Posts Tagged ‘power politics’

Video: Climate, Culture, and Strategy

Quote of the week:

Change does not necessarily assure progress,
     but progress implacably requires change.
           Education is essential to change,
                for education creates both new wants
                      and the ability to satisfy them.
                                  —  Henry Steele Commager (1902 – 1998)

As we begin this segment, let’s take a few minutes to review these past weeks to maintain continuity as we add our final pieces to the puzzle for this course. For this week’s learning, our mission is to discuss the concepts of climate, culture, and strategy. How do these elements affect (and effect?) the way managers and leaders make decisions about how an organization will react to change?  Will an organization be proactive with regard to change or allow the marketplace to dictate terms?  What happens when change begets conflict?  Is conflict necessary a bad thing?  The goal is how can an organization harness and transform the power of change within an organizational culture and manage the conflict that may occur more effectively?

Let’s be sure to visit these videos with regard to change and conflict management. 

With respect,

With respect,

What other videos can you offer us this week?  What lessons can we take away and use in our everyday interactions?  Let’s be sure to integrate your thoughts into this weeks’ discussion.

The importance this week is the question: How can an organization effectively manage conflict, power, politics, and change?  How does an organizational personality affect these areas?

Soon-to-be-famous Segment: News You Can Use.

In earlier weeks, we have considered topics such as job selection, training, motivation, and areas of management and leadership.  We must however also include context—how do these all work together—to represent what Landy and Conte (2010) refer to as the “psychological part of organizational psychology” (p. 618).  What is organizational conflict exactly and how do organizations benefit and fail because of it?  “To grow, change, and survive, an organization must manage both cooperation and competition” (Jones, 2010, p. 388).  One must consider the strategic aspect of thinking and planning as well—to tie these all together.

First, let’s look at the inherent risks and benefits of conflict.  Conflict is not always such a bad thing.  Sometimes conflict is intentional and purposeful, and yes—even effective.

Both the culture of work and the structure of the organization must also contain intangibles, such as opportunities for everyone at every level to learn in order to maintain and improve job satisfaction, a stated code of ethics to establish and solve differences and conflicts.  Conflict is inevitable, and it can be destructive or useful, depending on how the leader handles it. (Bennis, 1989, p. 158)   

The real question is the strategic choice of each organization and their philosophy for handling conflict.  Will they just survive or might they find that they will actually be better off as a result of this organizational conflict? (see Figure 14.2, Jones, 2010, p. 389: The Relationship between Conflict and Organizational Effectiveness).  What do you think?  Landy and Conte (2010) focus on this idea of the integration of the organization—bringing together the various theories of organization that we have talked about within this course, particularly their dynamic and ever changing nature.

Our friend Landy and Conte (2010) offers the following theories: Classic Organizationl Theory, Contingency Theory, and Systems Theory [One of my personal favorites as we have discussed Senge (1990) throughout the course!] worthy of our focus.  Let’s dig deeper to seek to understand the process of conflict, so that we then may emerge more knowledgeable when implementing the various conflict resolution strategies offered as well as the various theories through which we can view.  Each of us will need to both understand the process, and potential strategies for resolution, as well as understanding ourselves and our personal comfort zones.

Many of us seem to be programmed to run as fast as our legs will carry us whenever conflict may rear its ugly head.  Running away from conflict is not the answer.  Running toward conflict is. [What? Did I hear you correctly Dr. C?  I should run toward conflict?  Are you crazy?]  Yeppers!  One does not learn by running away from one’s fears, but by embracing them.

Let’s look to the definition of organizational power to help us which offers “the ability of one person or group to overcome resistance by others to resolve conflict and achieve a desired objective” (Jones, 2010, p. 397):  That doesn’t sound too bad, now does it?

As we have been discussing these last few weeks, we need to look at the structure of an organization as a solutions based tool, as well as the importance of social dynamics and social capital—the power of relationships.  We must also look toward the function of each and how power struggles within their resultant climate and culture may happen between who has the functional authority, or the legitimacy of power?  What is the difference between power and influence?

We need to separate the holding of power because of one’s person, one’s office, the willingness to exercise it, and the tendency to actually do so.  Studies tend to confuse all four and sometimes even fail to distinguish between power and influence. (Bass, 1990, p. 226)

            In summary, to bring our course to a close, once again the question is before is: Why do some companies fail where others succeed?  Why do some companies come out of a crisis stronger than when they began?  What do the lessons of successful survivors offer us?  Why are growing pains for some companies simply challenges for discovery for others?  How do these all work together forming the broader foundation for the I-O Psychologist?

The questions before us remain to ask why and how these all work together for a more effective outcome?  Let’s be sure to also consider these questions from the broader multicultural perspectives, particularly when cultures clash (Landy & Conte, 2010, pp. 642-657.  Be sure to see the cartoon on p. 655 as well.  It’s indeed a jungle out there! *grins*)   

Great points for us to ponder this week
What will you take away from this experience and our lessons learned?  What concepts may still require clarity?  Let’s be sure to spend a few minutes in thought and take the entire course into our view so we can look to our final week and gain additional clarity if needed. .

Enjoy your week and happy thinking!

Dr. C


Bass, B. (1990). Handbook of leadership. Theory, research, and managerial applications (3rd ed.). New York, NY: The Free Press.

Bennis, W. (1989). Why leaders can’t lead: The unconscious conspiracy continues. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Jones, G. R. (2010). Organizational theory, design, and change (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Landy, F. J., & Conte, J. M. (2010). Work in the 21st century: An introduction to industrial and organizational psychology (3rd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday Books.

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June 27th, 2011 by admin