ThreeA Culture of Empowerment

In addition to the individual choice we make for caution or courage at a specific moment, we are impacted by both the norms and practices of our organization and the set of beliefs and values we bring to the job. We need to understand the nature of the bridge we cross before we can begin to walk it.

Four elements are critical in understanding organizational politics: (1) the contract between the individual and the organization, (2) how each of us defines our self-interest, (3) the tactics we use in generating support for our activities, and (4) the basic autonomy, interdependence, or dependency that each cycle fosters. These elements form a self-reinforcing cycle that results in either an entrepreneurial or a bureaucratic way of operating.

Figure depicting bureaucratic and entrepreneurial cycles. The bureaucratic cycle (left) consists of four parts: patriarchal contract, myopic self-interest, manipulative tactics, and dependency. The entrepreneurial cycle (right) consists of four parts: entrepreneurial contract, enlightened self-interest, authentic tactics, and autonomy leading to interdependence.

Bureaucratic and Entrepreneurial Cycles

Ultimately, it is by moving toward the entrepreneurial cycle that our approach toward positive politics is realized. With an understanding of the bureaucratic and entrepreneurial cycles, we can look at ways in which we, as managers, can be advocates for our function in a positive way.

The Bureaucratic Cycle

In many ways, organizations unintentionally encourage people to choose to maintain what they have, to be cautious and dependent. Every organization was started by someone who bet the farm to offer a new product or service––an entrepreneur. It doesn't matter whether ...

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