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The Political Theories Lens in Organizations

Updated on April 18, 2013

Within the political theories lens, individuals are encouraged to “accept the reality of politics as an inevitable feature of organizational life” (Morgan, 2006, p. 202).

Within many organizations nowadays, employees are realizing that though their rights are coming into view more and more in the present state of the government, within each workday, these same rights that he is encouraged to fight for as a citizen are completely stripped.

At 8am or 9am in the morning as he enters his workplace “he is expected to keep his mouth shut, do what he is told, and submit to the will of his superior.

For eight hours a day, five days a week, he is expected to forget about democracy” (p. 150) because his rights are no longer important. The goals of the organization and those of the leader in charge are the ruling factor.

The focus of the political theories lens is on the leaders or rulers in an organization. As in governmental politics, those in power determine the path the organization will take, which goals it will pursue and how those in inferior states will go about getting them there.

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Politics we originally provided as “a means of creating order out of diversity while avoiding forms of totalitarian rule” (Morgan, 2006, p. 151).

However, it has created exactly that situation. In politics, there were originally forms of checks and balances, as in the government, throughout the system, in order to keep everyone involved in a democratic way so that an organization can run as a “unified” system.

“The political metaphor suggests otherwise, pointing to the disintegrative strains and tensions that stem from the diverse sets of interests on which organization builds” (p. 204).

Questions in relation to the political theories lens all point back to the corrupt system of politics that each organization has built for itself; back to the leader.


Who has access to agendas, control over information, knowledge of procedures, ability to cope with uncertainty, etc.?

Those in ruling positions in organizations always stress specific goals in mind for success, have a motto for motivating employees towards those goals, and a mess of rules and regulations to get the organizations there that they expect employees to blindly obey without question.

These rulers “use the organization as a legitimizing umbrella under which to pursue a variety of task, career, and extramural interests” of their own, regardless of the needs of the organizations in order to be fruitful and successful, “justifying actions that suit their personal aspirations in terms that appear rational from an organizational standpoint” (Morgan, 2006, p. 203).

These leaders are skilled in political ways, which makes it easy for them to use their organizations and their subordinates in such a way to accomplish their own agendas, political or otherwise.

The biggest danger of this metaphor, however, is that once an individual is made aware of this particular theory and his or her eyes are opened to the truth, “we begin to see politics everywhere and to look for hidden agendas even where there are none” (Morgan, 2006, p. 205).

Therefore, it is crucial to see an organization from a variety of lens and to really try to identify the truth before coming to snap judgments.

Just because one or two organizations/leaders are corrupt, it does not mean that they all are that way. “Under the influence of a political mode of understanding, everything becomes political” (p. 205).

This is just one more lens to view organization through in order to help cultivate a thorough understanding of organizational systems.

Politics in organizational life is a reality, but it ultimately comes down to the one in charge to determine its positive or negative use in developing the atmosphere and the organization as a whole.

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Morgan, G. (2006). Images of organization. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.


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