Department of Management


Date of this Version



The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Oct., 1977), pp. 672-678. Used by permission.


Published by The Academy of Management Review. Used by permission.


Viewing organizations as political entities is not a recent phenomenon. March (7) suggested that organizations are political coalitions in which decisions are made and goals are set by bargaining processes. Other writers stressed the utility of taking a political perspective when studying organizations (1, 6, 9, 22). Anyone associated with almost any form of organization eventually becomes aware of activities that are described by employees as "political", but what is termed political by one observer may not be viewed as political by another. To understand the nature of political processes in organizations, some agreement as to what constitutes political behavior must be developed. This article attempts to shed light on the organizational political process by constructing a literature-derived definition of organizational politics (OP). Guiding this effort are the following assumptions:

1. Behavior referred to as politics takes place in varying degrees in all organizations.

2. Not all behavior in organizations can be categorized as political.

3. The organizational political process can be described as non-evaluative terms.

4. While many variables involved in describing organizational politics may be familiar to other organizational behavior concepts, a combination of these variables constitutes a unique process that cannot be described adequately by existing paradigms. This unique process if organizational politics.