6 Political behaviour
Buchanan and Badham (1999) suggest that political behaviour can be usefully evaluated against four criteria to help determine whether it is acceptable or whether it is not:
Four criteria to determine whether political behaviour is acceptable
Is the behaviour ethically acceptable?
Does the initiator of the behaviour have a reasonable warrant for carrying it out?
Can a plausible account be constructed to justify the behaviour?
Is the initiator’s reputation left intact?
In the case quoted in Example 1, the benefits of the change project for the organisation as a whole seem to suggest that, on balance, the consultants’ behaviour might be justified. It can certainly be argued that they had a reasonable warrant for behaving in this way, given the overwhelming necessity to bring about change, that a plausible account could be constructed to justify their behaviour in that it was necessary for the project to succeed, and that their reputation probably remained intact, given their close relationship with the chief executive. Whether you find their behaviour ethically acceptable is a matter of personal preference! Whatever your opinion is about this, it is difficult to imagine that a project of this kind could be managed successfully without some recourse to political behaviour.