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Individual Differences and Differences among Nations in Perceptions of Organizational Politics

On September 25, Alexander Zibenberg, PhD, participated in the “Culture matters” seminar. Alexander Zibenberg is a researcher at the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, HSE.

Dr. Zibenberg presented two studies of organizational politics he has conducted with Shaul Oreg (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel). Organizational politics, as defined for the purposes of the study, is a dynamic process of using influence in order to achieve personal goals that are contrary to the interests of the entire organization or work unit. The model that was tested in the study proposed that perceptions of organizational politics and attitudes towards politics are defined by cultural factors and personal values, and that perceptions of politics affects a number of work-related outcomes.

In the first study, the model was tested in a single culture. 621 participants have completed a personal values questionnaire (for self-enhancement and self-transcendence values) as well as a series of self-report measures of the perceptions of organizational politics (promotion-related issues, use of coalitions, suppression of self-expression), aversion to politics, and work-related outcomes: organizational commitment, intentions to leave, job stress, and job satisfaction. The data provided support for the hypothesized model: values did affect the perceptions of politics, with people oriented towards self-enhancement values perceiving their organization as more politicized and expressing lower aversion to politics than people oriented towards self-transcendence values. However, the link between perceptions of politics and work-related outcomes received only partial support: people who believed that their colleagues were forming coalitions did report higher stress and lower organizational commitment, but perceptions of promotion-related issues and suppression of self-expression did not affect work outcomes.

In the second study, Zibenberg and Oreg tested the hypothesis on cultural influences on the perceptions of organizational politics. The hypothesis was that perception of organizational politics will be higher in countries with higher endorsement of embeddedness values and lower endorsement of autonomy and egalitarianism values. A study with 400 participants from Israel, Ukraine, and Germany provided support to the hypothesis – the perception of the use of coalitions was significantly higher in Ukraine than in Israel and in Germany, but there were no significant differences in the perceptions of promotion-related issues and suppression of self-expression.