• Unit 8: Power, Politics, and Change

    This unit explores the concepts of power in organizations and the political environment within the organization. Power is related to leadership and authority; however, politics consists of the coalitions that form among groups and people. Companies can positively or negatively use power and politics as both individual actions and group processes. When managers use legitimate authority, it is fine, but they must take the use of unauthorized power into account.

    As all organizations now operate in a volatile, uncertain, and complex world, the firm must be prepared to change in response to external forces and trends. The internal environment of the business and the leadership will determine how well the company is positioned to make that change. People are naturally resistant to change, and thus it helps if the organization's leaders are resilient and visionary to help move the company forward.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

    • 8.1: Power and Politics

      We often negatively think of organizational politics, but there are positive aspects of power and politics. Organizations consist of formal, informal, and social networks. This section will look at the sources and uses of power. Formal power is the easiest to see, as managers have the power to require certain behaviors from employees. Informal power is more difficult to see but felt within an organization. Organizational politics are informal and unofficial and usually unseen with efforts to influence the organization to achieve some objective on the part of the power holder. One of the resources says: "Effective politics isn't about winning at all costs but about maintaining relationships while achieving results". Managers and leaders need to have political awareness and skill. The following sections will explore power and politics in depth.

    • 8.2: Power Bases

      Power bases are the source of a person's influence in the organization. People can have more than one power base or use several different power bases depending on the circumstances or design of the organization. If the power base is the source, we need to examine how those power bases are used. This section explores the specific tactics that managers may employ for different purposes and situations.

    • 8.3: Counterpower and Strategic Contingencies

      In organizations, power may be exhibited along the formal lines of authority, but it may also be found in informal networks. This section will help you understand the tactics that can tip the balance of power or place the manager at a different point along the continuum of the dimensions of power.

    • 8.4: Influencing Organizational Politics

      Before studying organizational change, we need to know how to operate within the organization's political structure. We have learned that politics is not just negative but can have positive outcomes. Although the word tends to be used as a pejorative, we have learned that it is used in organizations to allocate resources and make decisions. This section demonstrates that if we want to achieve change, we must know how to exert influence in organizational politics.

    • 8.5: Change Management

      Change is a constant in life, as it is in organizations. An organization that cannot change cannot evolve. When organizations do not evolve, they stagnate and will eventually become irrelevant. An excellent example is the Eastman Kodak Company, once one of the most powerful brands in the United States. The company made cameras and film that allowed amateurs to take pictures and flourished from 1888 until its collapse in 2004. Despite inventing digital photography (which they used to enhance film), the company never believed digital photography would be disruptive. They could not have been more wrong.

      There are many reasons for companies to change, but regardless of the reason, the firm must manage the change well to be successful. Thus, the resources in this section will address the dimensions of change, change management, and agile changes.

    • 8.6: Rapid Responses in a Changing Environment

      The term "agile" stemmed from the software industry that must adapt to change rapidly and deliver products at intervals during the project, responding to product changes per customer requirements. Since being introduced, agile methods have been adopted by other industries and by organizations. More companies have adopted agile change management to quickly pivot to respond to market changes, such as a pandemic. This section explores the concept of agile in terms of it being an ecosystem of interrelated networks.

    • 8.7: Changing Mindsets

      Ultimately, leading people and managing change is all about changing mindsets. This section is the culmination of the entire course. Leading people in an organization is about the changes people can make for themselves and the organization. When people can change, so is the organization. As we have seen, sometimes leaders manage downward, sometimes laterally, and sometimes upward. Having the skills and abilities to change mindsets (including our own) enables growth, whether organizational or individual. Take the time during this section to reflect on what you have learned about managing people and yourself to become leaders in your organization.

    • Unit 8 Discussion

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    • Study Guide: Unit 8

      We recommend reviewing this Study Guide before taking the Unit 8 Assessment.

    • Unit 8 Assessment

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