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Title: How senior leaders make sense of organisational politics
Author: Ward, Adrian
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 4602
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Despite much scholarly endeavour in recent decades, understanding of organisational politics is still limited. Analysis of the research literature reveals how personal engagement in political activity presents both threat and opportunity for those in leadership roles. That so little is known about how leaders handle such ambivalence has become a growing source of dissatisfaction with contemporary writers highlighting gaps in understanding and linking this to the dominance of survey-based research. The dearth of richer interpretations of the complexity presented by active involvement in such a controversial arena has led to a call for an increase in sound qualitative investigation. This study responds by examining leaders' sensemaking of the dilemmas associated with their own lived experience of organisational politics. Interviews with 28 senior leaders used an active approach to confronting participants with contradictions between their definitions of organisational politics and accounts of their own political behaviour. Using a combination of thematic and dialogic narrative analysis, the findings demonstrate first that most leaders drew upon two specific sensemaking processes and a mix of four competing narratives to come to terms with their involvement. Secondly, the research suggests that leaders can resolve ambivalence and contradiction through a belief in their capacity to act pragmatically in the political arena but that, if they experience it as a phenomenon to be endured and over which they have little control, their position may be undermined. Such findings support the contribution of a sensemaking approach to organisational politics by highlighting the importance of both identity and enactment in responding to the dilemmas presented by participation in political activity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available