Acquisition of Absolute Power Through Politics

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“Powers tend to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” - Lord Acton (1887)


Power is an integral invisible force which permeates throughout an organization. We can only feel the power and see the way other people react and behave when the power is used on them. The purpose of my essay is to show how Power and politics are played in my organization and how these are affecting the organization. To drive home this point in my paper I intend to critically analyze the issue related to power and politics in the context of my experiences of working within the ABC Company. I shall undertake this analysis through drawing wide range of relevant theories and concepts related to power and politics. My organization ABC is a leading media company in Bangladesh. Its head office is in London but it is operating its activities independently in Bangladesh. The Country Director (CD) is the head of this company. As he is not a technical person, so Head of the Production’s (HOP) decision is to count which program should go for broadcast or on air. Before going for broadcast all the programs are needed to be approved by London office.

Identifying the source of power in ABC

Media has its own power so senior managers in ABC are socially powerful and it is in their characteristics to control people. From the first day of my joining I noticed that the CD was a kind of ‘Machiavellian’ type of manager who would do only what would serve his interest (Machiavelli, 1961). I know that “Power in workplace is inevitable” (Pfeffer, 1992, p. 30), so I was just waiting to see in which form and way it would occur. Though as Head of Admin I was the one who was supposed to make the policies but my CD already instructed what should be in the policies. I found that ultimately he had kept all the powers in his hand so that he could manipulate.

I found that the CD always maintained a good networking with the London office. This was his source of power. Every Head of the department also wanted to maintain good relationship with the CD because “power is also increased when a position encourages contact with high level people. Access to powerful people and the development of the relationship with them provide a strong base of influence.” (Daft, 2009, p.513). The CD also used this technique and by making good relationship with the Head of Marketing made a ‘coterie’ to make his power base. CD also wanted to control Admin and Finance Departments. CD, it seemed, knew that “if one has to use political tactic to use power then one has to expand network not only with the higher manager but also with the additional managers” (Daft, 2007, p.481- 482).

Allegiance through Corruption: An incident

CD appointed Head of Marketing from minority community. As Head of Admin the CD should have consulted me before any such appointment, but he did not. I was hurt, but I thought it unwise to come in conflict with him. CD also skillfully recruited, bypassing me, local ethnic minority group in his company so that being downtrodden they would also support the CD as they thought that CD was the power for their survival. CD in turn gave the impression that for their allegiance and compliance he would give them promotion and other benefits as his image was high in the London office. Here CD used ‘Reward Power’ as described by French & Raven (1958) where “the leader has access to valued rewards which will be dispensed in return for compliance with instructions.” (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2007, p.800). Thus the CD proved the maxim that “Power can not be used without there being other people who trust you. The ambitious need other people to help them to hold on their power.” (Corrigen, 1999, p.102-3).

Marketing department did all the purchases for printing materials. A tender was floated for this. In collusion with the CD the Head of Marketing made a short list of...
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