Micro-Politics Approach to Leadership

  • Ingo Winkler
Part of the Contributions to Management Science book series (MANAGEMENT SC.)


According to the prevailing opinion, the term “organizational policy” can be traced back to Burns (1962), who introduced it into social sciences. He considered political behavior to be the main driver for social changes in organizations. The term “micro-politics” might be defined as the portfolio of those daily tactics with which power is built up and applied in order to extend the room for maneuver and to defy external control (Neuberger 1995). From this perspective, power and politics become essential variables to describe leadership reality in organizations or, as Küpper and Ortmann (1992) put it, organizations are pervaded with politics. Making decisions, formulating rules, creating structures, distributing tasks, or providing instructions are political processes and the people involved are “micro-politicians” or “influencers” as Mintzberg (1983) names them. Consequently, political behavior in organizations is intended to promote or protect the interest of individuals or groups and thereby to threaten the interest of others (Porter et al. 1981). Such behavior is not regarded as being outside the legitimate systems of influence or as being clandestine, as Mintzberg (1983) understands organizational politics. Rather organizational politics and micro-politics behavior – opened and covered – are considered as day-to-day phenomena in organizations and the legitimate system is nothing else but the result of such behavior. Put differently, political processes are considered to be endemic to organizing and organizations (Hosking and Morley 1991). Furthermore, political behavior is not conceived as necessarily dysfunctional but as a matter of fact in organizations and a principal way in which people get things done (Bacharach and Lawler 1998).


Organizational Member Leader Behavior Organizational Politics Impression Management Political Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. Border Region StudiesUniversity of Southern DenmarkSønderborgDenmark

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