Is office politics a white man’s game?

Editorial / Opinion Piece / Blog Post

September 12, 2018

Is office politics a white man’s game?


By Michelle King, David Denyer and Emma Parry,

Love it or hate it, office politics is an inevitable part of organizational life. Many people associate political behavior with backstabbing and manipulation — but there is a constructive side to being politically savvy. Being able to negotiate, influence, engage, convince, and persuade others is how things get done in organizations — and how organizations decide what’s worth doing at all. Developing political skill reduces stress and enhances performance, reputation, promotability, and career progression at work. A 2008 survey of 250 managers in the UK revealed that 90% of them believed that political skill is required to succeed and to improve one’s career prospects. This has been further supported by numerous research studies that make the case for engaging in office politics. While the link between political skill and career success is firmly established, there is a problem: Office politics doesn’t work for everyone in the same way.

Although current research investigating gender or ethnic differences in political skill is limited, researchers Pamela Perrewé and Debra Nelson argue that women often overlook the importance of office politics and rely on task accomplishment as the primary means of advancing their careers. Many women are reluctant to engage with it, or even see it as distasteful. Some people have called women and racial minorities “politically naïve” for avoiding politics, and argued that training and mentoring initiatives are necessary to help women see the value in office politics and learn to play the game.

Click here to read the full article published by Harvard Business Review on 12 September 2018.



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