"Playing the Game": Politicking within a Partnership Structure during a Change Project in a Professional Service Firm
Abstract: This study aims to examine how a partnership structure in a professional service firm causes political action by stakeholders within an organization and what effect this has on collaboration. As our case organization has a distinctive organizational structure characterized by a partnership structure, separate services, and a strong incentive system, we argue that these factors have an impact on political behavior and thus on cross-service collaboration in the context of a change project. In our theoretical background, we outline existing literature on concepts of formal and informal organizational structure. Furthermore, we present previous research on organizational politics in the context of change and the interrelation of organizational structure and organizational politics. As part of our qualitative case study, we conducted nine semi-structured interviews and examined secondary data in the form of internal written material. This research is an abductive approach, being influenced by the interpretive research tradition. Based on the empirical material, we found that a partnership structure in Professional Service Firms (PSFs) leads to clashing interests of various stakeholders which consequently results in politicking and impeded collaboration. With our study, we provide a deeper insight into the political actions of partners and change managers in partnership-based PSFs that arise due to organizational conditions.
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