Organizational Power and Politics

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Power and politics seem to be at the center of any organization, sports included. Sources of organizational power stem from the subunits as well as how the organization is structured and designed. One of the major forms of power is the ability to cope with uncertainty, which arises out of changes in the task environment (Slack & Parent 202). This uncertainty surely creates problems in the sport organization and those subunits that can effectively control it will gain power. Three ways of doing so are: acquiring information and preparing for future trends, absorption (or taking action after an event has occurred) and prevention. Two political strategies that walk hand-in-hand with dealing with uncertainty are the use of outside experts and building a network of contacts (Slack & Parent 207). Most organizations have their own in-house experts but also reach out to external experts for an objective view and increased support and legitimacy for the department's position. Networks also provide increased support through sponsors, peers, and subordinates. These people promote your organization and what you are trying to accomplish. They may have their own outside networks and connections with people which in turn can assist you in dealing with uncertainty in one of the three previously mentioned ways. Nonsubstitutability and control over the decision making process are two more types of organizational power (Slack & Parent 205). When an individual or a subunit is so proficient at their assigned task to the point that they are irreplaceable, they are said to be nonsubstitutable. By retaining these subunits, they are more likely to have a well-informed opinion on decision making in the company. The people who are able to decide on organizational matters in turn become much more powerful within the group. Building coalitions with others through communication and establishing trust through relationships is a political strategy to gain and retain power. It is said that the best organizations are those which have as little substitutability as possible; however, with all of the networking and external outreaching, how likely is it that an employee might come to find that the grass is greener on the other side? What can you offer to retain that employee and prevent them from switching? Two of the more dominant types of organizational power are the acquisition and control of resources and the concept of centrality (Slack & Parent 202-203). Centrality refers to the fact that those subunits who are more central to the work or information flow will be more powerful than those on the periphery. In addition to being closer to the internal structure of the organization, they will be able to acquire more resources and obtain a higher level of control. Monetary resources and financial situations are what come to mind when centrality and control of resources are mentioned. In order to counterbalance these highly dominant organizational power types, a sport manager could effectively control information. By doing this, they are able to influence decisions of the organization by putting an emphasis on supporting facts and limiting or ignoring other information that might hurt their case. These tactics are used to push for their position and discredit the opposing viewpoint. Though this is highly effective in most situations, you must think about your values and beliefs. Is this ethical to withhold certain information? Though you are not lying you are not fully informing your client of all of the facts that might be necessary for them to make the best decision possible.