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2014/2015  KAN-CCBLV3002U  Power, Influence, and Organizational Politics

English Title
Power, Influence, and Organizational Politics

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 35
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for BSc og MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Eric Guthey - MSC
Course administrator: Tove Pedersen (tpe.stu@cbs.dk)
Main academic disciplines
  • Management
  • Organization
Last updated on 09-04-2014
Learning objectives
At the end of the course students should be able to:
  • Explain the nature of power and influence in organizational contexts, and specify key strategies for exercising power and influence in those contexts
  • Define and evaluate the connections between power, influence, and organizational politics, and evaluate the dynamics of interpersonal and group politics in concrete organizational settings.
  • Use the case materials assigned in the course to provide specific examples of the many ways in which organizational politics manifest themselves, and the ways in which they influence individual, team, and organizational performance.
  • Analyze the power dynamics and political challenges presented in the case studies assigned in the course, and display the ability to evaluate the sources of power, political interests, formal and informal network affiliations, and influence strategies of the key players in those cases.
Course prerequisites
Bachelor degree. The course is offered as an elective in concentration in Diversity and Change Management in the Masters Program in Business, Languages and Culture (BLC), but is also open to students in other graduate programs at the CBS, including international students.
Prerequisites for registering for the exam
Number of mandatory activities: 1
Requirements about active class participation (assessed approved/not approved)
active class participation and discussion on an aproved/not approved basis.
Power, Influence, and Organizational Politics:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Individual
individual oral examination on all material covered in the course - based on a three-page written synopsis to be handed one week before the exam. The subject of the synopsis is chosen by the student. It is not graded, but it serves as a starting point for the examination.
Size of written product Max. 3 pages
Assignment type Synopsis
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period December/January
Aids allowed to bring to the exam Closed Book
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure
The ability to wield power effectively is vital to a successful career. Organizational politics can derail individual careers and whole organizations. This course prepares students to function as effective leaders and managers while also managing themselves and their careers in the face of the challenges presented by the pervasiveness and persistence of organizational politics, power, and influence. Through the use of case studies, supplementary readings, and discussion and simulation exercises, the course provides participants with an extended opportunity for practical discussion and critical analysis of the complex strategic, organizational and interpersonal dynamics of power, politics, and influence they will confront throughout their careers.
The course prioritizes classroom discussion and debate over lectures, in order to help course participants to develop and to refine the kinds of communication, analysis, and presentation skills that can help them to navigate the turbulent waters of organizational power and politics.
Topics and themes covered in the course include: the nature of organizational politics; the difference between formal and informal authority in organizations; sources of personal, team, and organizational power and influence; techniques and tactics for exerting power and influence; cultural and contextual influences on the dynamics of organizational power; the politics of change management; the politics of gender and diversity in organizational contexts; and the power dynamics of performance evaluations and reviews.
Teaching methods
Class time will consist almost entirely of case-based discussions, exercises, and simulations, with very few formal lectures. Students will participate actively in and analyzing presenting cases. Students will be strongly encouraged to form study groups that meet outside of class to prepare and discuss cases in advance.
Further Information
Changes in course schedule may occur
Tuesday 13.30-16.05, week 36-41, 43-46
Expected literature
Course materials consist of business cases, discussion and simulation exercises, and some supplementary readings. All students are responsible for purchasing all course materials and for showing up for class ready to discuss them. The case materials assigned for this course are all available for purchase at the Harvard Business School Publishing.

Indicative Literature:
  1. Michel Anteby, Nitin Nohria (2008) “Michael Fernandes at Nicholas Paremal.” Harvard Business School Case Study.
  2. Joshua Margolis, Anne Donnellon (1991) Jonah Creighton A and B. Harvard Business School Case Study.
  3. Linda A. Hill, Mark Rennella (2011) “Martha Rinaldi: Should She Stay or Should She Go?” Harvard Business School Case Study.
  4. Leslie Perlow, David Ager (2004) “The Cat is Out of the Bag: KANA and the Layoff Gone Awry.” Harvard Business School Case Study.
  5. W. Earl Sasser Jr., Heather Beckham (2008) “Thomas Green: Power, Office Politics and a Career in Crisis.” Harvard Business School Case Study.
  6. Tiziana Casciaro and Kathleen McGinn (2003) “Abelli and Saviotti at Banca Commerciale Italiana.” Harvard Business School Case Study.
  7. Pablo Cardona, Jose Ramon Pin, German Serrano Duarte, Lourdes Susaeta (2005) “Coaching at Banco Azucarero de Cali (BAC) (A).” IESE Business School Case Study.
  8. Michael Beer, Sunru Yong (2008) “TerraCog Global Positioning Systems: Conflict and Communication on Project Aerial.” Harvard Business School Case Study.
  9. Henry W. Lane, Chantell E. Nicholls, Gail Ellement (2000) “Ellen Moore: Living and Working in Korea.” Richard Ivey School of Business Case Study.
  10. William Q. Judge, Linda A. Hill (2011) “Change Management: Power and Influence.” Harvard Business School Multimedia Simulation.
  11. Abraham Zaleznick (May June1970) “Power and Politics in Organizational Life,” Harvard Business Review.
  12. Selections from Jeffrey Pfeffer(2010) Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don’t. New York: Harper Business.
  13. Selections from Calvin Morrill (1995) The Executive Way: Conflict Management in Corporations. The University of Chicago Press.
  14. Selections from Robert Jackall (2010) Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers. Oxford University Press.
  15. David Krackhart and Jeff Hanson (July August 1993) “Informal Networks: The Company Behind the Chart.” Harvard Business Review.
Last updated on 09-04-2014