Power, Politics, Conflict and Culture Research Paper
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Only then will the more effective use of knowledge occur and its value is de-politicized, making it more potent in generating profits (Chartrand, 1985).
It is a paradox that the more challenging, disruptive and uncertain a given industry is the more organizations fractionalize their structures, creating splinter groups and politically volatile structures that only accelerate a company's demise. The paradox is that in the toughest and uncertain of times in the telecommunications industry, Verizon Telecommunications needs to think more about how they too can be a disruptive force in the market. Instead, the management team is focused on a highly balkanized, very politically-driven agenda of holding onto power by creating smaller silos or departments that can easily manage the data that is perceived as the most valuable asset there is in the organization. The paradox comes full circle when a company is sold in pieces and the sold unit or department must integrate themselves into their new parent organization with a level of accuracy, alacrity or speed and focus that would have saved their previous company. This scenario plays out often in highly commoditized, price-driven industries like telecommunications. Verizon Telecommunications could ironically save themselves that pain if they only chose to look at their combined intelligence and knowledge as the most critical asset they have, and unify to pool their expertise to keep the customers they have and earn new ones. The study of smaller, more interdependent groups within organizations show that they are more capable of overcoming market and industry turbulence than isolated often siloed organizational structures (Pfeffer, 1992). Just as managers who are often stymied by the larger-scale organizational structures that have engrained processes and systems in place to preserve power, the breaking down of larger organizations into smaller operating units' yields greater trust, and therefore faster acceleration to complex goals and objectives (Pfeffer, 1992). This is critically important for Verizon Telecommunications to consider as it will redefine the balance of power in the organization and also lead to greater transparency throughout the company as well. All of these factors need to be taken into account in the development of a more streamlined, highly integrated organizational structure.
Another facet of the leadership and organizational challenges that Verizon Telecommunications faces is the divisive nature of different cultural and political themes throughout the organization. Organizational learning has shown to be effective in bridging the gaps between cultural and political ideologies in an organization, and have also shown to be highly effective in unifying diverse power-driven cultures in companies as well (Ferdinand, 2004). What Verizon's leadership must do is create a more effective shared knowledge and learning strategy to ensure the political ramifications of Verizon's tendency to balkanize into exclusive departments doesn't force the overall culture to break apart,. Only by using organizational learning as a catalyst for continued communication and collaboration will Verizon Telecommunications be able to overcome the dysfunctional nature of the organizational structure. The politics and cultural foundation of the company can potentially lead to even more of a balkanized organizational structure; it is up to senior management to lead the company through this aspect of their divisive culture and re-unify the organization (Berezin, 1997).
It is inevitable in organizations going through disruptive levels of change for conflicts to emerge. These conflicts are exacerbated by the depth and intensity of power struggles, in addition to the innate nature of cultural conflict that occurs between business units. Adding in the turbulent nature of the telecommunications industry and its continual merger and acquisition cycle, and a culture of conflict and power struggles begin to dominate an organization. When this occurs it is imperative that the management team of an organization look at how to alleviate conflict before it begins, in addition to practicing appropriate conflict style orientations that can lead to positive outcomes (Stephen, Kyle, Manda, Oommen, DeMaris, 2011). As difficult as it is for an organization going through the massive amount of change that Verizon Telecommunications is experiencing in highly competitive markets, defining and managing conflict-style preferences is critical for the continued unification of the business (Stephen, Kyle, Manda, Oommen, DeMaris, 2011). Awareness and insights into conflict styles can also be instrumental in creating more effective learning systems as well (Ferdinand, 2004). For Verizon to resolve the dysfunctional nature of its structure, as it moves in the direction of more exclusive, closed business units, it is imperative that their leaders of
the company gain insight into conflict style preferences and manage the re-unification of the company with respect to these. The conflict styles will often be used for defining the power structure and organizational political hierarchy as well, which further will isolate one part of the organization from another. The management team and leaders at Verizon need to create a culture of open communication with recognition of the value of conflict styles and their potential to contribute to the company's long-term structural stability and growth (Stephen, Kyle, Manda, Oommen, DeMaris, 2011). Only by doing this will Verizon's management team and key leaders be able to also unify the diverse analytics, CRM and service systems, creating a more unified view of the most critical metrics their business relies on including reduction of customer churn rate and increasing customer lifetime value (CLV) (Jallat, Ancarani, 2008).
Dysfunctional organizations are not created by committee; they evolve when balkanized, splintered groups choose to pursue their own strategy without coordinating it with other parts of the organization. Often these groups will rely on the power of information and the vast amount of customer data they hold in legacy CRM, customer service and pricing systems to influence other departments and divisions to get what they need to attain their own objectives (Chartrand, 1985). In the absence of credible and trusted leadership, this often occurs, leaving an organization more attuned to specific political agendas and less a strong, galvanizing goal of serving customers and growing profitably (Berezin, 1997).
When faced with the challenge of teams or entire departments or divisions going in separate directions, leaders will often replace the traditional group with newly conceived groups, thinking this revised organizational structure will prove more effective. This however inevitably leads to more of the same power struggles and organizational challenges as the political capital at stake in even the most well-designed new group is the most critical concern of everyone involved. What must be done in this instance is to completely replace the leaders and senior management team so the basic foundation and composition not just the team, but its philosophical mindset and approach to cultural assimilation and affiliation, are changed and made more collaborative in their approach to conflict management (Abdelkader, 2009). Changing a team's leader will change its mindset, and making changes at the individual level will open up entirely new avenues of collaboration and communication as well. Another benefit of taking this approach to re-designing a department at the group level is that it forces a much higher level of shared risk taking and shared accountability as well. The single most powerful aspect of changing individuals within a given department at Verizon Telecommunications will be the increased accountability and visibility they will have to ensure greater coordination, communication and collaboration throughout the company (Abdelkader, 2009). Senior management needs to be cognizant of which member of a previous team they place into a given position, as the more politically powerful a given team is based on their control of information assets, the more critical it is the new lead of the department have a very clear set of expectations given to them about accountability, collaboration and transparency (Abdelkader, 2009).
Of the many catalysts or sources of conflict that Verizon continues to face, the most challenging to overcome on a daily basis are the vast differences in work ethics and personal agendas between team members within the same department and across groups or departments. The more uncertainty a given department or group perceives, the greater the conflict on the dimensions of relative work commitment and trust (Berezin, 1997). Each person's work ethic is scrutinized in organizational cultures going through significant, turbulent and disruptive change. Adding in the aspect of personal agenda, or the implied belief that someone's motivations are now what they appear to be, and the cultural cues are set for a volatile political conflict (Peaks, Gordon, O'Keefe, 2009). Work ethics are also seen as an indication of relative commitment and belief in the vision not just of the overall company, which for Verizon Telecommunications would be the continual acquisition of consumer, small business, enterprise and government customers, but the reduction of customer churn as well. In highly political environments, a person's work ethic is an indicator of their allegiance to a given political faction or group as well (Peaks, Gordon, O'Keefe, 2009). And personal agendas of individuals and groups are also interpreted, even assumed, based on their alignment to specific power bases within the organization. The politicizing of information in Verizon for example would show that marketing has a very clear agenda to control all aspects…
Sources Used in Documents:
Chartrand, R.L. (1985). The politics of information. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 36(6), 376-376.
Frederic Jallat, & Ancarani, F. (2008). Yield management, dynamic pricing and CRM in telecommunications. The Journal of Services Marketing, 22(6), 465-478.
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