When discussing organisational politics it is first necessary to look at components of politics. Individual personalities play a large part of an organisations culture and politics. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MYBI). is a 100 question personality test that asks the participant about their thoughts, feelings and how they would deal with a given situation. Based on the responses of the participants, they are classed as either Extroverted or Introverted. Extroverted individuals are sociable outgoing and assertive. Introverted individuals are the opposite being quiet and shy. Thinking types use logic and reason to deal with problems while feeling types (as the name suggests) rely on personal values and emotions. Sensing individual types prefer routine and order. Intuitive use unconscious processes whilst judging types want control, order and structure. Those Perceiving individual types are flexible and spontaneous (Robbins et al., 2004). Unlike the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MYBI) which may lack the strong supporting evidence, the five factor model theory typically referred to as the 'Big Five'. Recent research has supports the theory or five basic factors that cover important variations of the human personality. However, none of these models take into account and ethnic cultural values or beliefs as many Polynesians and Asians would tend to be introverted by default. This aspect would be taken into account by the Hofstede model.
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A major component of politics is the concept of power as politics is power in action. Power is the capacity to influence the behaviour of others, whether that power is utilised or not (Robbins et al., 2004).
Oppositely and more importantly is a dependency that is created and reciprocated when that power or influence is desired by others. This is a pivotal component of politics. An example of this is a lecturer having power (in the form of knowledge) over students in order for students to pass their exams and gain further qualifications.
Dependency is the key to power. Dependency is increased when resources that one controls is important, scarce and non substitutable.
Other examples of power can involve both formal and informal bases. Formal organisational power is base on an individual's position in an organisation. More formal and more traditional forms of power recognised as authority. Early pre-corporation examples of these were rulers in the form of Kings and Queens. This was an example of legitimate power and represents the formal authority to organisational control. This position of authority includes coercive and reward powers (Robbins et al., 2004). Other forms of formal power are coercive power which is power that is dependant on fear. This fear may include response to negative results for failure to comply and maybe either physical or psychological. This fear may also include non disclosure of known sensitive information about an individual by the power holder which could ultimately lead to what is termed as 'blackmail'. On the other hand reward power produces positive benefits to those who comply in the form of recognition, promotions, pay rates and bonuses. Coercive and reward powers are counterparts of each other. Leaders can use power in order to facilitate their achievement attain group goals (Robbins et al., 2004).
The other base of power is Personal Power for those that may or may not have the formal bases of power. An example of this is Mother Teresa of Calcutta who was famous for her humanitarian work.
Expert power is an influence that is gained through having expertise, knowledge or special skills. As technology has increased and jobs have become increasingly specialised, these skills have created a dependency on these experts to achieve these goals. Examples of these are found in highly technical fields such as Information technology or medicine.
Referent power is those individuals that have desirable resources or personality traits. Referent power develops out of admiration and a desire to be like that person (Robbins et al., 2004).
Examples of this are celebrities in the media whether they are entertainers or sporting personalities.
Politics is power in action. A definition for political behaviour is activities that are not a formal role, but can or may influence advantages or disadvantages within the organisation. As organisations are made up with individuals with groups with indifferent values, goals and interests there can be a blatant attempt to further one's interest. There are both individual and organisational factors that contribute to political behaviour. Individual factors involve personality traits, needs and other factors are likely to be related to political behaviour as well is the expectations of future benefits. High expectations of success are more likely to utilise illegitimate methods.
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Organisational factors can include declining resources, low trust, role ambiguity, unclear performance evaluation, zero reward allocation, high pressures for performance and self serving senior managers will create politicking. The perception of politics can have negative affects such as increased job anxiety and stress. It can also lead to defensive behaviours and employees quitting. (Robbins et al., 2004).
When talking about international trade and business between different countries, it is important to take into account the very different cultures of the organisation and more importantly its employees. These cultural aspects are the key to understanding how to more effectively negotiate international trade deals with people in different countries (Workman, 2008). New Zealand has its own unique culture and must observe cross cultural differences (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller, 2006).
The most referenced approaches for helping managers better understand the differences between the different cultures is outlined in the Hofstede's framework for assessing cultures. (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, Coulter, 2009). Hofstede's research found that managers and employees can differ on five aspects of national culture (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, Coulter, 2009). One of Hofstede's cultural aspects is called individualism in which people in one country prefer act as individuals. This aspect measures the extent to which people care for themselves and their immediate family only. Highly individualistic countries are generally richer countries western cultures such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The Netherlands & New Zealand rank is as one of the most highly individualistic nations while Latin Americans cherish strong family loyalties (Workman, 2008). The concept of individualism versus its opposite (collectivism) is something to be considered when looking at the different cultures compared to New Zealand. Geert Hofstede states that the ccultures with low individualism scores (such as most Asian counties) focus more on collective efforts with promotion based on seniority (Workman, 2008). Collectivism us characterized by a tight social framework in which members act as a group and in return expect loyalty (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, Coulter, 2009).
Hofstede has termed the phrase power distance as a measure of the extent to which people in a country accept the power in institutions and organisations is distributed unequally. A country will find a high power distance in a society with wide differences in power within organisations. Employees can display a great deal of respect for those in authority. Countries that are high in power include Japan, Malaysia and its neighbours the Philippines and Singapore. In contrast many westernised countries such as Denmark Austria, Australia and New Zealand are examples of those with low power distances (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, Coulter, 2009).
Uncertainty avoidance describes to what degree people would tolerate risk and prefer structured to unstructured situations. People that are in low uncertainty avoidance are relatively comfortable with risks. They feel relatively secure and are tolerant of views that differ from their own. On the other hand the opposite is true of those societies with high uncertainty avoidance. Societies with high uncertainty avoidance feel threatened by uncertainty and ambiguity which results in nervousness, high stress and aggressiveness. Because people feel threatened by ambiguity and uncertainty political and social mechanisms to reduce risk and provide security. These countries are also likely to have formal rules in place (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, Coulter, 2009). This would make international trading very difficult. New Zealand as low to moderate uncertainty avoidance. This maybe useful in any future negotiations.
Another aspect represents a dichotomy of a cultural emphasis of achievement orientation which values qualities such as assertiveness, competitiveness and obtaining material goods. Nurturing orientation places importance of relationships, showing sensitivity and the welfare of others. New Zealand has a mixture of moderate/strong values (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, Coulter, 2009).
Hofstede also describes the concept off Masculinity versus femininity concept. Masculinity is the degree to which the society favours masculine roles such as power, control and achievement compared to a culture to where women are treated as equals (Robbins et al., 2004).
The final aspect that Hofstede identified is that of Time orientation. People that live in cultures with long-term orientation look to long term in the future such as saving funds and persistence in achieving goals. Leisure time is not so important and it is believed that important life events will happen in the future. Short-term orientation refers to values of maintaining the status quo of personal stability, happiness and living in the present. Leisure time is important and the most important events happened in the past and present. New Zealand seems to be very much a short-time orientation culture. Cultural differences in decision making styles means, that decisions are made at a slower and more deliberate pace than their New Zealand counterparts. New Zealand managers perceive most situations as problems to be solved by making decisions; however in the managers from other cultures tend to accept rather than trying to change most situations. There are adjusting controls for cross cultural differences which is an important managerial function as controlling people and work can be very different in other countries. (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, Coulter, 2009).
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Organisational Culture is a system that distinguishes the various organisations from each other. Culture is a descriptive term and is concerned with several key characteristics of the organisations culture and values and is as follows:
Aggressiveness. Competitiveness is encouraged. The average Australian employee is more competitive and self focused than is than a Japanese employee. This is listed in Hofstede's Masculinity principle as is the degree to which the society favours masculine roles such as power and control.
Innovation and risk taking. Employees are encouraged to take risks and be innovative.
Stability is the maintaining the status quo instead of growth which is the opposite of the above innovation and risk taking.
Outcome orientation. Management focuses on results rather than the process or techniques to obtain those results. This can be summed up in Hofstede's masculinity principle as is the degree to which the society favours masculine roles such as achievement.
People orientation. The extent to which management considers the effect of people within the organisation.
Team orientation. Activities are arranged around teams rather than the individual. New Zealand and Australian children are taught at an early age, the values of individuality and uniqueness. In vast contrast, partly based on religion, Japanese children are taught to be 'team players', to work within the group and to conform. A significant part of an Australian or New Zealand student's education is to learn to think, analyse and to question. Their Japanese counterparts are rewarded for recounting facts. These different socialisation practices reflect different cultures and result in different employees (Unitec, 2010) .The concept of individualism versus its opposite (collectivism) are characteristics that have been considered when looking at Hofstede's model.
Attention to detail is the extent to which employees are expected to exhibit accuracy, precision and an attention to detail (Robbins et al., 2004).
As noted the above characteristics have many similarities to the Hofstede model.
In today's global economy organisations face a great deal of challenges for instance, the difficulty in managing an organisation that spans 30,000 kms and speak 6 different languages. There is also a matter of the different religions such as Buddhism, Hindu and Islam. Some countries may also face such problems as parochialism, ethnocentric, polycentric and geocentric views.
The Kluckhorn-Strodtbeck Frame states that people are heavily influenced and have a strong relationship to their environment. These also include such factors as
Time orientation (also mentioned in the Hofstede model).
Nature of people. New Zealanders are said to be very easy going.
Activity orientation. New Zealanders are very much being or living for thee moment.
Focus of responsibility - Individualistic or group focus which was also mentioned in the Hofstede model of individualism versus its opposite (collectivism)
Conception of space- conducting business in public versus private (Unitec, 2010).
Changes have become fundamental for contemporary economy, from society to organization, every component being submitted to a continuous modification process of constructive and functional parameters. The current market economy is essentially marked by the globalization trend of the competition, by the way of major and rapid changes of technologies and human resources. Adapting an organization to the changes in the external environment represents one of the managers' constant preoccupations focused on maintaining the organization's effectiveness as well as on increasing its performance. The organizational change aims at some of the aspects extremely differently from the viewpoint of its complexity, starting from the reorganization of the working teams to the elaboration of some new strategies or the improvement of the organizational structure (University of Oradea, 2008).
We can discuss change issues for today's managers in four areas which include technology in the workplace stimulating innovation, creating a learning organisation and managing culture in a change context. The recent advances in technology have changed the lives of employees by way of continuous improvement systems and process reengineering (Robbins et al., 2004).
Continuous improvement is an important part of quality control and involves measuring output and established quality standards (Boone, Kurtz, 2010). It is important to note that even excellent performance can be improved upon. Top quality management requires a never ending process of continuous improvement (Heizer, Render, 2008). This process may cause positive tension for the organisation but can create stress in some employees (Robbins et al., 2004).
Process reengineering is what would be done if things were to begin from the beginning and involves rethinking and redesigning. An example of this was Dell computers creating a competitive advantage by differentiating itself from its competitors and selling high quality hardware, low prices and excellent service and technical support.
Innovation is another way of promoting continuous improvement and process reengineering is by encouraging and stimulating innovation. However not all innovation leads to significant improvements for example the Telecom XT product launch and failure. The sources of innovation are organic and flexible in structure (committees, task teams and cross functional teams) and can be nurtured when resources are limited.
Human resources can be instrumental in actively promoting and training the development in these areas. Many innovative organisations encourage experimentation and promote the idea champion to enthusiastically promote the concept.
It is also important to develop a learning organisation for looking for new ways to respond successfully to a world of interdependence and change.
Organisations can also create a learning organisation that has developed the continuous capacity to adapt and change. There is a single loop learning style which involves correcting errors using past routines and present policies. A double loop learning style is correcting errors by modifying the organisations policies and routines. Finally the triple loop learning system is correcting errors by understanding the learning process and modifying the organisational systems accordingly (Robbins et al., 2004).
So in conclusion it is interesting to note that there are overlaps and an intertwining of the various models. My personal theory is that because an organisation is made up of individuals from such varying backgrounds, that it is difficult to assess.