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2023/2024  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
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 40
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for BSc and MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Eric Guthey - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Management
  • Organisation
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 02-02-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Explain the nature and significance 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.
Power, Influence and Organizational Politics:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Essay
Release of assignment An assigned subject is released in class
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The ability to wield power effectively is vital to a successful career. Toxic 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 and theoretical readings 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

Description of the 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 analyzing and presenting cases and theoretical readings. Students will be strongly encouraged to form study groups that meet outside of class to prepare and discuss cases in advance.
Feedback during the teaching period
The discussion based teaching method will lend itself to continual feedback on student ideas, contributions, and case analysis throughout the course.
Student workload
Teaching 30 hours
Preparation for class 106 hours
Exam 70 hours
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. Tiziana Casciaro and Kathleen McGinn (2003) “Abelli and Saviotti at Banca Commerciale Italiana.” Harvard Business School Case Study.
  5. Abraham Zaleznick (May June1970) “Power and Politics in Organizational Life,” Harvard Business Review.
  6. Selections from Jeffrey Pfeffer(1993) Managing With Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations. Cambridge: Harvard.
  7. Selections from Calvin Morrill (1995) The Executive Way: Conflict Management in Corporations. The University of Chicago Press.
  8. Selections from Robert Jackall (2010) Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers. Oxford University Press.
Last updated on 02-02-2023