About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The impact of organizational politics on workplace learning

As I get deeper into my dissertation study, I am finding that office politics have a great impact on knowledge management, what employees learn, how what they have learned translates into how they work, and how they work impacts the learning environment. I am still the beginning stages, but here are some of the trends I am looking at:

  • there is a tension between the way an interdisciplinary group works (prioritizes, accomplishes tasks, what they "know", roles, and leadership) and the department from which an employee comes. Which one will take precedence when there is conflict is dependent on the political situation and the employees perception of which group will impact his work most immediately.
  • Leadership seems to influence what "knowledge" is needed and how work is accomplished. Workers take their cue from leaders and without leadership, there is a "herding cats" mentality which results in lack of coordination, duplication of effort, and a void in terms of direction.
  • Some personalities just prefer not to work in a group. Others do not feel comfortable in a leadership role. The most effective groups are those in which there is a safe environment for conflict and differences of opinion, a process to make meaning that allows others a voice, and a sense of support rather than criticism.
  • Employees that do not know where they fit within the organization as a whole or feel alienated from the organization tend to work independently. This may result in conflicts during group or team work as they will continue with their own work rather than conform to organizational dictates (especially if they don't understand how these organizational dictates fit into their own work).
I don't remember learning about the office politics in any of my management courses. Specifically, there is little said about the "unwritten" rules of authority and how a new worker is supposed to learn these rules and their role in the organization. It seems to me that this is an important skill in the new "flat" management structure as there is no longer a job title cue that will tell where one is in the organization.

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