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Organizations as Political Systems

Organizations carry out various roles and functions that determine how it structured as an institution – that is, whether it functions as a brain, a machine, a political system, and such. The focus of this paper is on the political system that is an organization as determined by the leadership styles that exist within it. The discussion will be fuelled by the learning experience of undergoing the leadership assessment and recommendations formulated by Dr.

Marilyn Moats Kennedy, particularly on the field of health care, and the relationships of leadership and political systems within organizations conferred by other sources. Dr. Kennedy presented various approaches on how management should be transformed from its traditional origins to the contemporary approach which looks into the importance of leadership as a management strategy, most especially now that organizations acknowledge the benefits and advantages of hiring younger workers as opposed to older individuals.

This is so, because Kennedy believes that what the younger work force needs and wants are management institutions that are capable of leading efficiently and appropriately – that is, leading according to the desirable and acceptable standards of leadership and management and not the established dimensions of leadership that takes advantage of power and authority

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to demand work outputs and productivity rates. (Kennedy, 1998) Kennedy’s idea of leadership and management is similar to the context of participative and delegative leadership styles.

Participative leadership fosters cooperation and collaboration by allowing the leader and his subordinates to share roles and responsibilities, most especially on the decision-making process. Delegative leadership, on the other hand, allows employees to make decisions directly by themselves through harnessing their knowledge, skills, and competencies in determining organizational problems and concerns and identifying what needs to be done to resolve them.

However, in this style of leadership, the leader is still held responsible for the decisions that his subordinates make and he is also responsible for delegating particular task that his subordinates need to work on independently. Therefore, the success of his subordinates in accomplishing tasks and responsibilities lie on how well the leader knows their strengths and weaknesses. (Clark, N. D. ) In general, Kennedy is amenable to progressive leadership as an important element of management.

He attributes the kind of culture that exists in work groups of today, specifically young and liberal workers, to how leadership and management should be transformed. (Kennedy, 1998) Although Kennedy presents a convincing argument that discusses the current culture within health care institutions, it does not entirely apply to the dimensions and structures of leadership and the political system within the organization.

First, Kennedy’s assumptions of the culture of the younger work force are stereotypical and one-sided, disregarding individual differences and the diversity of the workforce. Second, political systems within organizations carry out varied roles, not only pertaining to the kind of culture that Kennedy describes existing to the younger generation.

Third, Kennedy’s recommendations were based on the context and structure of health care systems overlooking the different structures that exist among various industries as compared to the unique foundations of health care. For these reasons, there is a need to review Kennedy’s assumptions before incorporating it to organizational practices and operations as it only follows a specific and detailed organizational structure (health care systems) and a distinct work group (young workers).

Although Kennedy’s recommendations might work for health care systems and with organizations that prefer young work groups, it will not be practical to other organizations with different and diverse structures and work forces. For instance, the focus of organizations nowadays is on the prevalence of multicultural workforces as the world has adjusted to globalization and multiculturalism.

In addition, since various issues have been raised over the past years about the role of organizations to society, organizational leaders and managers have adapted the concept of corporate social responsibility wherein they consider what they can contribute to the improvement and development of society in terms of looking after the health and welfare of the people and the community, as well as the preservation of the environment, and the incorporation of legal concepts, ethics, and morality within the framework of organizational practices and operations.

The ever-changing landscape of organizations and their structures, as proven with aforementioned discussion of the various changes that took place throughout the years, leads to the assumption that the political system that exists within it is flexible and accommodating to these changes. Moreover, the political system within the organization is utilized according to current situations in order to balance vested interest not only of the organization but the workers and the external environment as well.

As a general rule, politics when applied to the organizational setting has something to do with resolving conflicts of interest within the organization whether it has something to do with the internal and external environment. (Ratzburg, 2002) Other takes on organizations as political systems look into the intrinsic need of its leaders to look after the position and best interest of the company, raising the need to do everything necessary to obtain power and manipulate people, processes, and such to their advantage.

(“Leadership and Organizational Politics,” N. D. ) Reviewing the role and purpose of politics within the organization reveals the fact that its success is dependent on how the political system is structured in order to resolve the conflicts within the organization and between the organization and other key players and how it utilizes power and authority to fulfill its goals, objectives, and interests.

Like the concepts of the organization as machine, an organization, a brain, or a culture, the political system is one of the main ingredients of success for organizations as it determines how well the organization will run like a machine, work like an organism, think like a brain, and act as a culture, since the political system is in charge of leading, managing, motivating, or directing the processes and operations that take place within the organization.

However, I believe that although the politics is highly instrumental in accomplishing organizational success in terms of the realization of established goals and objectives, there is a need to review and analyze how it should be incorporated to the policies and practices within the organization. There are various issues to consider, such as the internal and external environment, organizational goals and objectives, the availability of resources to implement the structure of the political system, and such.

Organizations should not only look into one recommendation, such as Kennedy’s discussion on organizational politics, the health care system, and culture of the workforce, but review the changes and trends in the organizational landscape in order to adapt leadership strategies and approaches that are timely and instrumental to the achievement of organizational success.

In addition, organizational leaders should keep in mind the diversity of the work force and varied structures of organizations which are determinants of how the political system should be established and implemented timely and appropriately. References Clark, D. (N. D. ) Leadership Styles. Retrieved December 9, 2008, from NWLink. Website: http://www. nwlink. com/~donclark/leader/leadstl. html Kennedy, M. M. (1998). The New Rules of Leadership and Organizational Politics – In the Trenches.

The Physician Executive. Retrieved December 9, 2009, from CBS Interactive Inc. Website: http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_m0843/is_1_24/ai_102286818 “Leadership and Organizational Politics. ” (N. D. ) Retrieved December 9, 2008, from Alagse. Website: http://www. alagse. com/leadership/l3. php Ratzburg, W. (2002). Defining Organizational Politics. Retrieved December 9, 2008, from Geocities. Website: http://www. geocities. com/Athens/Forum/1650/htmlpolitc01. html

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