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Chapter Thirteen

Conflict, Power and Politics

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Marketing Manufacturing Areas of Potential Goal Conflict

Goal Conflict MARKETING Operative goal is customer satisfaction VS.

MANUFACTURING Operative goal is production efficiency

Conflict Area
Breadth of product line:

Typical Comment
Our customers demand variety. New products are our lifeblood. We need faster response. Lead times are too long. Why dont we ever have the right merchandise in inventory? Why cant we have reasonable quality at low cost?

Typical Comment
The product line is too broad, all we get are short, uneconomical runs. Unnecessary design changes are prohibitively expensive. We need realistic customer commitments that dont change like the wind direction We cant afford to keep huge inventories. Why must we always offer options that are too expensive and offer little customer utility?

New product introduction: Production scheduling:

Physical distribution:


Sources: Based on Benson S. Shapiro, Can Marketing and Manufacturing Coexist? Harvard Business Review 55 (September-October 1977): 104-14; and Victoria L. Crittenden, Lorraine R. Gardiner, and Antonie Stam, Reducing Conflict Between Marketing and Manufacturing, Industrial Marketing Management 22 (1993): 299-309.

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Sources of Conflict and Use of Rational vs. Political Model

Sources of Potential Inter-group Conflict
When Conflict Is Low, Rational Model describes organization
Consistent across participants Goal Incompatibility Differentiation Task Interdependence Limited Resources Orderly, logical, rational Centralized

Organization Variables
Goals Power and Control Decision Process Rules and Norms

When Conflict Is High, Political Model describes organization

Inconsistent, pluralistic within the organization Decentralized, shifting coalitions and interest groups Disorderly, result of bargaining and interplay among interests

Norm of efficiency

Free play of market forces, conflict is legitimate and expected

Ambiguous, information used and withheld strategically

Extensive, Information systematic, accurate

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Individual vs. Organizational Power

Legitimate power Reward power Coercive power Expert power Referent power
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Power vs. Authority


Ability to influence others to bring about desired outcomes Flows down the vertical hierarchy Prescribed by the formal hierarchy Vested in the position held
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Vertical Sources of Power

Formal Position Resources Control of Decision Premises and Information Network Centrality
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Horizontal Sources of Power

High Power

Low Power

350 325 300 275 250 225 200 175 150 125 Co. B Co. C Co. I Avg.

Sales Production R&D Finance

Source: Charles Perrow, Departmental Power and Perspective in Industrial Firms, in Mayer N. Zald, ed., Power in Organizations (Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1970), 64.

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Strategic Contingencies That Influence Horizontal Power Among Departments


Financial Resources


Department Power


Coping with Uncertainty Thomson Learning 2004


Power and Political Tactics in Organizations

Tactics for Increasing the Power Base
1. Enter areas of high uncertainty 2. Create dependencies 3. Provide resources 4. Satisfy strategic contingencies

Political Tactics for Using Power

1. Build coalitions 2. Expand networks 3. Control decision premises 4. Enhance legitimacy and expertise 5. Make preferences explicit, but keep power implicit
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Tactics for Enhancing Collaboration

1. Create integration devices 2. Use confrontation and negotiation 3. Schedule inter-group consultation 4. Practice member rotation 5. Create superordinate goals


Negotiating Strategies


Win-Win Strategy
Define the conflict as a mutual problem Pursue joint outcomes Find creative agreements that satisfy both groups Use open, honest, and accurate communication Avoid threats Communicate flexibility


Win-Lose Strategy
Define the conflict as a win-lose situation Pursue self outcomes Force other group into submission Use deceitful, inaccurate communication Use threats

2. 3.

2. 3.



5. 6.

5. 6.

Communicate rigidity

Source: Adapted from David W. Johnson and Frank P. Johnson, Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1975), 182-83.

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