Why it is Difficult to Eliminate Organizational Politics in the Study of Organizational Behavior?

ABIODUN AJALA
7 min readJan 25, 2024

I still cannot believe that I failed Introduction to Business course at my University. It was the beginning of School Politics in practice. A very basic course that talks about forms of business. I had an issue with my lecturer in this regard. He forewarned everyone in the classroom that we should give it to him the exact way he gave it to us. I was like what is he saying? This is higher learning.

I found it irritating to cram and pour out his lecture notes. I performed woefully in both the assessment and the final examination. My first year was an insight into what I seem to call unknown conflict and group dynamics which is the total sum of Office Politics. Who marked my script? I kept asking myself. The lecturer involved cannot mark the voluminous exam script and assessment and he delegates it to students in let’s say Year 3 or 4 students. Corruption would come in. These guys dealt with me.

I cried when my results came out. I had just gotten below 40 which means failed not even pass or E. I could remember the set of 6–12 people who sat down with me in the exam hall. All looking unto me to distribute passes like Mesut Ozil. My exam script was open for supply. How come all these guys passed this course and I got an F? So funny…I said I am going to take this up. I demanded an explanation for this. I cried and I got sick. Whom did I offend in this institution? Did I offend any Lecturers or fellow students? I was told reporting this issue would breed more problems for me in this school. I was told to re-write the exam so that I wouldn’t be tagged for the remaining years in my college.

I happened to be a Genius from the very first day I got admission into the University. The Genius thing has been ingrained even as I am working in an organization. You need high self-esteem to like me. Someone with very low self-esteem might find me like a threat. I build self-esteem for people through coaching and various programs. My kind of dressing. The design of my head. Every stretch or scar that people would have used to insult me turned out to be my selling point. I realized that I love myself. Undisputed Genius.

My lecturer stated; Define Business. All he needs is 2 or 4 lines. A quick read. I wrote; that business can be defined as…in fact, I oppressed University Lecturer by saying; According to Peter Drucker, 1954…the word “Drucker” is enough to upset him. You see “1954” would make him discard the script in the waste bin. They needed limited thinking. Limited thinking that would not solve critical company problems. The ability to cram and see the world the way My business lecturer views it would earn you an A or B. They don’t care if you cheat as much as you don’t get caught.

I failed this business course for the second time. Then I have to figure things out. I made up my mind that I was not going to put in any effort. I love research and I choose not to crammed. I research my school library and I read crazy things about Politics and Organizational politics. I decided to read something not even related to the business course that is giving me headaches. Something that I already knew in business studies in my Junior secondary school and likewise Commerce of SS1.Why fail this simple course?

I went and sat for it for the third time. I was just smiling and crying all at the same time. I make sure I crammed and delivered. I spent just a few minutes doing this. I later pass.

I had my academic freedom the day I stopped cramming and pouring. Mathematics has never had any impact on my reasoning. My business course lecturer took into a business like mathematics. Sadist and envy. I used every wisdom to beat all these challenges. Many useful lessons in Management can rescue one in times of crisis. Calculation never made a hero said John Neuman. The design makes Genius. At least I had excellent grades with other Business and Management lecturers. This set of Lecturers embraces research and creative thinking. Why should I limit myself to a portable notebook while I have giant text to liberate me to thrive?

The practice of giving it to me the way I gave it to you has made many Gurus graduate with a third-class grade and even pass.

We got to learn about the Laws of Never Outshine the Master from sadist lecturers. They don’t want you to know better than they do. So, you have to play along with others to stay afloat.

Always wondering what went wrong with you in any social setting. You can never know what could get your boss, society, and organization upset.

Organizational politics is one of the critical things after you have finished setting up your company. It’s inevitable. People come and people would go. The traces would remain. It determines who gets promoted. Who is going to get fired? It is through office politics that members who participate get information while it is hot. Every other thing becomes a formality. Who stays on the payroll? How many people are working in the company in the real sense? Who is the true manager and who does these appointments at the back ends?

Not everybody who gets a good grade is brilliant. Because of the politics and power in some colleges, some students have been programmed to graduate with the best grades. No matter how you think you can read and understand books you can never beat the lecturer. The lecturer doesn’t even like the students who prove to be a researcher. They don’t like intimidation. They don’t like when you think outside the box. I wrote similar things back in my school days titled; The Evil System

Society at large is made up of brilliant people who are actually for those who use power and influence to acquire momentum. Not everybody is meant to be top. The temptation to star is so ingrained in our society. I read the story of Walter Rooney.

Attention needs to be paid to so many things when you join an organization. You need to cooperate with the cleaners. He or she may likely be more powerful like a member of the board. Is there any need to talk to every female staff on an informal ground? What if you fall victim and your jealous male boss who dates every lady fired you? Thinking you are stepping on his girlfriend! Attention needs to also be paid to how people dress. So that you would not be dressing more than the finance staff or the well-paid sourcing manager who doesn’t have flirt for a good outfit. Also, you need to ask if you are to be silent or to be talkative. All these can make or mar you.

I have overheard people saying playing politics can make you move faster in a company and not playing it means you are allowing nature to decide your fate. It’s a dirty game some said. But being notorious gives you wide respect and you become the subject of what people talk about. You build informal on informal like a networking business. But in the long run, it would bring about dispute and disloyalty.

Can we wipe it away in the organization? Whose job? Wiping it away might make things uninteresting in a company. Every department and every individual plays politics right from the bedroom to the boardroom. Though it is amoral and full of laws.

Company politics has never been based on good principles. It doesn’t teach us to be humane. It doesn’t put a holistic approach to human relations into play. It’s based on the premier of this is the stick, hit them. If you don’t hit them, they will attack you. If they were in your position, they would use the stick and hit you. It is a game for those who want it fast. Those want to know everything that is going on during and after work. A game of dominance.

This is how we do it. Follow this pattern. Don’t make any final analysis until you are asked to do it. Things like give it to me the way I gave it to you guys. It happens in schools, companies, and even at the national level. One set of people would keep ruling you for a decade. Don’t question it. If you question it you would get fired or frustrated. Pay attention.

I have never seen a company putting it on their corporate website or in a wall frame that we don’t play politics here. It is not something to be written. It is visible in the eyes of the beholder. Organizational Politics is worth giving studies along with Organizational Design, Organizational Culture, Organizational Climate, and Organizational Structure. But guess what? Much attention wasn’t given to it in the study of Organizational Behavior. Universities and colleges feel teaching is raising us to be politicians. Something that would have been left for political actors to be studying in political science.

To grab a hold of Office Politics is to experience it. Be gifted in Organization and Society. You need grace knowledge of Sociology and Anthropology. You need to dive deep into managerial psychology, work design even industrial psychology.

Good principles and sound management practices are prerequisites to changing the rules of work. Not force. Cooperation is required. People play politics virtually on every issue. To call people a politician or charge them for playing politics on an issue is a serious insult. But politics is also according to what Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “ the greatest service and science of mankind”

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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