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You Stab My Back, I'll Stab Yours: Management Experience and Perceptions of Organization Political Behaviour



This paper reports the findings of a survey of 250 British managers, exploring their experience and perceptions of organization politics. Political behaviour appeared to be common. Most managers viewed political behaviour as ethical and necessary, and aspects of organizational effectiveness, change, resourcing and reputation were attributed to political tactics, although 80% had no training in this area. Tactics experienced frequently included networking, using ‘key players’ to support initiatives, making friends with power brokers, bending the rules, and self-promotion. Tactics experienced as rare, but not unknown, included misinformation, spreading rumours, and keeping ‘dirt files’ for blackmail. A consistent pattern of responses concerning willingness to engage in politics, the need to act ruthlessly and the appropriateness of reciprocity when faced with political behaviour implies an attitude of ‘you stab my back, I'll stab yours’. Findings are discussed using an ‘antecedents–behaviours–consequences’ framework of perceived organization politics to guide research.