Perception of organizational politics

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Listing Type : English Scale

Perception of organizational politics (Kacmar, English)

Politics in organizations are generally regarded as pervasive, necessary for normal business functioning, and a simple fact of organizational life (Ferris et al, 1996b; Greenberg and Baron, 1995; Pfeffer, 1981; Pinto, 1997; Vigoda-Gadot et al, 2003; Williams and Dutton, 2000). Organizational politics are ubiquitous and considered necessary for normal business functioning (Pfeffer, 1981; Pinto, 1997); however, in the scientific literature there are differing notions (e.g., Allen et al, 1979; Bacharach and Lawler, 1980; Mintzberg, 1983; Pettigrew, 1973; Porter et al, 1981; Tushman, 1977) of what constitutes organizational politics. Most organizational researchers agree that perceived organizational politics may be described as the perception of intentional actions, sometimes performed at the expense of others, that are either covertly or overtly performed in an effort to advance one’s position (Allen et al, 1979; Andrews and Kacmar, 2001; Ferris and Kacmar, 1992; Kacmar and Baron, 1999; Kacmar and Ferris, 1991 ). Ferris et al, (1989) suggest that organizational politics is a social influence process in which behavior is strategically designed to maximize long-term and short-term self-interest, that is either consistent with or in opposition to others’ interests. Such self-interest maximization includes the prevention of negative outcomes and the attainment of positive outcomes. Adams et al (2002) suggest that even though political behavior may have positive outcomes, employees’ perceptions of politics are nearly always negative.

In an effort to understand the nature of perceptions of organizational politics in the workplace, Kacmar, and Ferris (1991) published a measure known as POPS. Its popularity and promising empirical support have generated many evaluations of the components of the theoretical model of organizational politics put forth by Ferris et al (1989), providing valuable insight into the antecedents and consequences of politics in organizational settings. Ample empirical evidence exists that politics can be conceived of negatively and that political perceptions have moderately strong relationships with key workplace outcomes (Miller et al, 2008). To understand the political perceptions construct, a basic understanding of the development of instruments used to measure it is helpful.

The first effort to develop a measure of perceptions of organizational politics was documented in an unpublished study by Ferris and Kacmar (1989). This instrument was comprised of five items and was not widely used by researchers. Nevertheless, the scale provided a foundation for subsequent construct validation efforts, which were launched with the first published version of POPS by Kacmar and Ferris (1991). Scale development efforts began with two overlapping sets of 31 and 40 items and exploratory factor analyses narrowed the scale to 12 items. Examples of items include: “Favoritism, not merit gets people ahead” and “Don’t speak up for fear of retaliation” (Kacmar and Ferris, 1991: 203). In the second published version of POPS, Ferris, and Kacmar (1992) re-factor-analyzed the original set of 31 items from the Kacmar and Ferris (1991) scale. This effort resulted in a 22-item scale. Examples of items include: “Managers in this organization often use the selection system to hire only people that can help them in their future or who see things the way they do” and “Connections with other departments are very helpful when it comes time to call in a favor” (Ferris and Kacmar, 1992: 108).

To converge on the use of a single scale, Kacmar and Carlson (1997) examined the 12-item version of POPS (Kacmar and Ferris, 1991) using structural equation modeling in a three-phase study utilizing seven independent samples. They discarded under-performing items and wrote additional scale items determined to be more representative of organizational politics than what they discarded. This third published effort at measuring political perceptions resulted in a 15-item version of the scale. Examples of items include: “People in this organization attempt to build themselves up by tearing others down” and “None of the raises I have received are consistent with the policies on how raises should be determined” (Kacmar and Carlson, 1997: 651). This most recent version of the measure has begun to receive widespread use (e.g., Rosen et al, 2006; Treadway, Ferris et al, 2005).

However, each of the three main measures of political perceptions continues to be regularly used in empirical research. Lastly, these scales designed to measure perceptions of organizational politics were each designed to be used with a five- or seven-point Likert response format.

Kacmar and Carlson (1997) established an instrument used for the perception of organizational politics. This scale consisted of 15 items. The internal consistency reliability estimate (Cronbach alpha) was 0.88. Respondents chronicled their particular views on each testimonial on the 5-point Likert – type response starting from strongly disagree (1), disagree (2), don’t know (3), agree (4) as well as strongly agree (5). These responses were recorded by the numbers attached. The item scores were summed to the extents outlined earlier mentioned.


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