Politics and conflict sometimes capture an organization in whole or significant part, giving rise to a form we call the Political Arena. After discussing briefly the system of politics in organizations, particularly as a set of ‘political games’, we derive through a series of propositions four basic types of Political Arenas: the complete Political Arena (characterized by conflict that is intensive and pervasive), the confrontation (conflict that is intensive but contained), the shaky alliance (conflict that is moderate and contained), and the politicized organization (conflict that is moderate but pervasive). the interrelationships among these four, as well as the context of each, are then described in terms of a process model of life cycles of Political Arenas. A final section of the paper considers the functional roles of politics in organizations.