Essay on College
Vol. 2, No. 4, November 1991
Printed in U.S.A.
ILLUSIONS AND OTHER GAMES: A TRIFOCAL VIEW
OF ORGANIZATIONAL POLITICS*
PATRICIA BRADSHAW-CAMBALL AND VICTOR V. MURRAY
York University, 4700 Keele Street, North York, Ontario, Canada
Despite recent and growing interest in organizational politics, conceptual thought in this area tends to be dominated by a single theoretical perspective. In this paper we describe and contrast three views of organizational politics (functionalist, interpretive and radical) according to their differing structures, processes and outcomes. Each view, or lens, directs attention to some aspects of politics and away from others, and each has strengths and weaknesses embedded in it. In …show more content…
The functionalist perspective on politics is broken into two subsets, the rational and the pluralist. In this case the rationalist perspective was not operating to any great extent. Every effort was made to avoid both data-based debate or resolution of differences through the use of appeal to authority. The functionalist perspective does highlight the possible reasons for the extensive use of information manipulation by identifying the key players in the game and the bases of power they utilize.
The radical perspective directs attention to the larger context of the case and asks at a deeper level why the Ministry of Health, Board of Directors and top administration are engaged in such game playing. Analysis of the political policy context of health care is suggested through this perspective.
The analysis of the case using multiple perspectives reveals that a unidimensional critique is almost always going to beflawed.A richer understanding comes from the simultaneous use of all the perspectives. The question of a possible integration of perspectives is raised, and five possible approaches are briefly explored. The value for managers in the use of multiple perspectives lies in increasing their ability to