Organization Political Analysis of the Movie, "Up in the Air"

Topics: Authority, Power, Hegemony Pages: 7 (2154 words) Published: March 14, 2013
An Analysis of Organizational Politics in Film: Up in the Air -------------------------------------------------


“Up in the Air”, starring George Clooney (Ryan) as a corporate downsizer for the Career Transitions Corporation (CTC), features many themes related to the subject of organizational politics. This report will discuss and analyze such concepts within the context of the characters and various political dilemmas displayed in the movie. The following are the political topics that are most predominant in the film: * Need For Power

* Ethics
* Sources of Personal Power
* Sources of Departmental Power
Following the discussion of the topics listed above, this paper will offer recommendations for Networking and Persuasion techniques that Ryan could have implemented to improve the political climate that he was engaged in. -------------------------------------------------

Need For Power
The film provides a few observational examples that Ryan has achieved a high modicum of organizational power. * He feels so strongly regarding his doubts about the computer termination initiative that he does not temper his opinions in discussions with his supervisor, Craig, and the new employee, Natalie. * Ryan does not exhibit any stress and exudes a high degree of being in control; he appears to be unflappable. * He is able to perform well in his job while taking a side career as a motivational speaker. This endeavor suggests a high degree of mastery of his current corporate position and suggests that his performance is such that his employer has given him tacit approval to engage in this other career. Some of the outward manifestations for the perception that Ryan has a high need for organizational power can also be seen by: * Ryan’s large portfolio of major corporate credit cards. * Ryan has high external mobility and is seemingly able to make travel arrangements at will. Ryan’s need for power can be classified as mainly individualized based on Ryan’s lack of connection to his family and his actions at work. But, as the movie progresses, it becomes less clear which type of power Ryan is really trying to attain. For example, Ryan has a strong motivation to fire people the “right way”, catering to the fragile emotional state of the former employees. Additionally, Ryan’s professional manner displays characteristics of: * Commitment and attention to detail by having a personalized response to terminated employees’ further inquiries or comments. * Leadership in his being uninhibited and willing to describe his aversion to the newly promulgated termination program. * Mentorship of Natalie.

Although, these characteristics are not readily apparent at the outset of the movie, piecing some of these observations together suggest a socialized need for power. Furthermore, Ryan does not display some characteristics of one who has a high need for individualized power such as egotism, hypocrisy, or lying. One could discern that he is very careful and thoughtful when using his power, demonstrating his need for both individualized and social power. -------------------------------------------------

A recurring ethical dilemma Ryan faces is moral identity; specifically, caring. Initially, the audience may conclude that Ryan possesses a low level of moral identity. This observation is confirmed in the movie’s opening sequence when Ryan, seemingly dispassionate, completes an employee termination proceeding by sticking to his downsizer’s script. He makes comments such as “try to not take this personally” and “collect your things”. Ryan’s tone and body language suggest that he does not care about these people. Ryan’s speeches, as a motivational speaker, center on the theme that personal belongings/relationships weigh individuals down...
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