Power, Politics, and Political Skill in Job Stress: Volume 15

Cover of Power, Politics, and Political Skill in Job Stress

Table of contents

(9 chapters)


Pages i-xii
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Research on perceptions of organizational politics has mostly explored the negative aspects and detrimental outcomes for organizations and employees. Responding to recent calls in the literature for a more balanced treatment, we expand on how positive and negative organizational politics perceptions are perceived as stressors and affect employee outcomes through their influence on the social environment. We propose that employees appraise positive and negative organization politics perceptions as either challenge or hindrance stressors, to which they respond with engagement and disengagement as problem-focused and emotion-focused coping strategies. Specifically, employees who appraise the negative politics perceptions as a hindrance, use both problem- and emotion-focused coping, which entails one of three strategies: (1) decreasing their engagement, (2) narrowing the focus of their engagement, or (3) disengaging. Although these strategies result in negative outcomes for the organization, employees’ coping leads to their positive well-being. In contrast, employees appraising positive politics perceptions as a challenge stressor use problem-focused coping, which involves increasing their engagement to reap the perceived benefits of a positive political environment. Yet, positive politics perceptions may also be appraised as a hindrance stressor in certain situations, and, therefore lead employees to apply emotion-focused coping wherein they use a disengagement strategy. By disengaging, they deal with the negative effects of politics perceptions, resulting in positive well-being. Thus, our framework suggests an unexpected twist to the stress process of politics perceptions as a strain-provoking component of employee work environments.


Much of the research associated with organizational politics has focused on negative outcomes such as stress, burnout, and turnover intention. Only a limited amount of research has focused on identifying the psychological mechanisms that explain the influence of negative organizational politics on individual and organizational outcomes. In this chapter, we propose a more positive conceptualization of organizational politics and explore potential associations between both positive and negative politics and employee engagement. More specifically, we propose a model showing how the psychological conditions of psychological safety, availability, and meaningfulness explain the relationship between perceptions of positive and negative politics and employee engagement. We conclude by suggesting practical interventions to assist organizations develop a more positive organizational political climate.


This chapter builds on previous research that conceptualized organizational politics as an organizational stressor. After reviewing the studies that integrated the occupational stress literature with the organizational politics literature, it discusses the negative implications of the use of intimidation and pressure by supervisors, implications that have generally been overlooked. Specifically, the chapter presents a conceptual model positing that the use of intimidation and pressure by supervisors creates stress in their subordinates. This stress, in turn, affects subordinates’ well-being, evident in higher levels of job dissatisfaction, job burnout, and turnover intentions. The stress also reduces the effectiveness of the organization, reflected in a high absenteeism rate, poorer task performance, and a decline in organizational citizenship behavior. The model also maintains that individual differences in emotional intelligence and political skill mitigate the stress experienced by subordinates, resulting from the use of intimidation and pressure by their supervisors. In acknowledging the destructive implications of such behavior in terms of employees’ well-being and the productivity of the organization, the chapter raises doubts about the wisdom of using it, and advises supervisors to rethink its use as a motivational tool. Implications of this chapter, as well as future research directions, are discussed.


In a world that glorifies power, the lives of the powerless serve as context for testimonies of salvation that in their pretentiousness more often reinforce the reputation and self-esteem of the powerful hero than transform the lives of the oppressed. Whereas these types of popular human-interest stories may raise awareness of the conditions surrounding the powerless, they do little more than advance the notion that these individuals are without hope and must rely solely on the generosity, resources, and leadership of the powerful populations by which they are exploited. We seek to offer a contrasting perspective in this chapter. That is, we present a framework that challenges messianic notions of leaders of ineffectual populations and presses forth with the idea that powerlessness is a more common condition than feeling powerful and that only the powerless can alter their destiny.


Large-scale organizational change, such as seen through mergers and acquisitions, CEO succession, and corporate entrepreneurship, sometimes is necessary in order to allow firms to be competitive. However, such change can be unsettling to existing employees, producing considerable uncertainty, conflict, politics, and stress, and thus, must be managed very carefully. Unfortunately, to date, little research has examined the relationships among change efforts, perceptions of political environments, and employee stress reactions. We introduce a conceptual model that draws upon sensemaking theory and research to explain how employees perceive and interpret their uncertain environments, the politics in them, and the resulting work stress, after large-scale organizational change initiatives. Implications of our proposed conceptualization are discussed, as are directions for future research.


This chapter discusses how the control and strategic management of resources plays a role in the occupational stress process. Building upon prior resource theories of stress, the idea is developed that control of external and internal resources, and not resource acquisition or maintenance, is a vital element that contributes to a strain response to workplace demands. This can occur at the level of objective resources (resources needed to cope with demands), and it can occur at the level of perceived resources (the individual’s perception of resource control). The chapter also discusses the importance of resource management strategies that individuals engage in, as well as both internal and external resource management resources. Several common stressors are discussed in resource control terms, and the role of power and politics in strategic resource management is discussed.


Pages 165-171
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Cover of Power, Politics, and Political Skill in Job Stress
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Book series
Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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