Conflict and Power in Organizational Politics

Conflict among managers is not a new thing and is here to stay. The first source of conflict among managers working for a particular organization is interpersonal differences. Differences in personality and communication style are the source of interpersonal conflict among managers ( Bacal, 1998). Poor communication is among the major sources of conflict among managers within an organization. Managers have different views when it comes to personal success, and this can be a source of conflict (Bacal, 1998). Managers that have different leadership styles are bound to differ on many issues. The other source of conflict among managers is to do with hierarchy. Some managers feel that they are more powerful than others, and this can lead to conflict (Bacal, 1998). Managers can disagree when it comes to the distribution of duties and resource allocation. Departmental differences in terms of decision making and accountability issues can be another source of conflict among managers (Fairholm, 2009).

There are different types of organizational power that can be a major source of conflict among managers (Bacal, 1998). The search for organizational power has always led to conflict among managers. Every manager has the desire to have an influence on all the groups within an organization in an attempt to achieve organizational goals (Bacal, 1998). The reward power is one of the major types of organizational power that is normally sought by managers. This type of organizational power is demonstrated when a manager is rewarded according to his or her attendance and productivity (Fairholm, 2009). The second type of organizational power sought by managers is coercive power. This type of organizational power enables a manager to discipline or threaten those employees who do not work towards achieving organizational goals (Fairholm, 2009). Managers with coercive power can demote or suspend employees who misbehave within an organization.

The search for power leads to conflicts within an organization. Every manager strives for power when it comes to the control of company resources, and this can lead to conflicts (Fairholm, 2009). Organizations whose resources are scarce experience more conflicts compared to those with enough resources. The search for power can come with jurisdictional ambiguities that may be a source of conflicts within an organization (Fairholm, 2009). Employees and managers get involved in conflicts in the struggle to increase their powers. Status and power differences within an organization cause conflicts among managers within an organization (Bacal, 1998). Individuals who seek organizational power may have different personal goals that may lead to goal conflicts. Managers within an organization can resort to malice and other dirty tricks to gain lower. These types of tricks are a source of conflict because they can end up hurting other individuals within an organization (Bacal, 1998).

Organizational conflicts influence decision making within an organization in different ways (Fairholm, 2009). It is difficult for an organization to make any rational decisions because of politics. Politics are based on personal views, and, therefore, an organization may fail to come up with decisions that are based on critical analysis. Managers can end up making the wrong decisions for political reasons (Fairholm, 2009). Organizations can delay making critical decisions because of organizational politics. Managers can use their power to come up with promotion decisions that may not be based on competence (Fairholm, 2009). Despite the negative effects of organizational politics on the decision-making process, politics can bring much-needed diversity in the process.


Bacal, R. (1998). Conflict prevention in the workplace: Using cooperative communication. London: Bacal & Associates.

Fairholm, G. (2009). Organizational power politics: Tactics in organizational leadership. New York, NY: ABC-CLIO.