Managing Organizational Demands: Avoiding Influence as an Organizational Response

Just as influencing organizations can develop prior estimates of their probable success and use these to guide their behavior, so can the focal organization. To forestall a loss of autonomy and to remove some of the contextual constraints on behavior, the focal organization may take actions to reduce the probability of being subject to successful enforcement of external demands. To the extent that the conditions leading to the social control of organizations outlined in Chapter Three are valid, we would expect the organization to operate on one or more of the variables to reduce the probability that an influence attempt would result in actual constraints on behavior.

When the organization faces conflicting demands, compliance can be a serious restriction on subsequent adaptation to other demands. By implication, the organization must either choosejyhich of the various competing demands to attend to or somehow avoid the conflict or demands. In this section, we will discuss some of the means by which organizations manage demands without necessarily satisfying them and, thereby, provide themselves with the discretion they require to attend to those demands which cannot be ignored.

Organizations may solve the problem of conflicting demands by employing the, mechanism of sequential attention to the demands of the various subgroups (e.g., Cyert and March, 1963). Instead of always satisfying one group at the expense of some other, the organization may attend to one set of demands at one point in time and to some other set when they become more pressing. At one time an organization may face pressing financial demands and may attend to strengthening its financial position. While it is doing that, its market share may fall, and then it may subsequently attend to its products and markets. Just as conflict does not have to be completely resolved within the organization, it is also true that conflicts among the demands of various external groups and organizations do not have to be solved all at once but can be attended to sequentially.

In the balancing of demands of the various groups, nondisclosurejj of what each group is actually getting can be a strategy employed to lessen the demands of the other groups. A group’s satisfaction is largely determined by its aspiration level; ajuoup is satisfied relative to what it expects to get. Aspiration levels are affected both by what competing groups obtained. Thus, employees may be willing to forego pay increases when the company is near bankruptcy and suppliers, creditors, and.j owners are also suffering. If the employees found that the owners were really secretly profiting, they would be quite irate. It is in the organiza-tion’s interests to make each group or organization feel it is getting relatively the best deal. Knowledge of what each group is getting is best kent secret.

Another strategy for balancing demands is to play one group og against another explicitly. As an example, organizations under federal pressure to hire more minority individuals frequently claimed that hiring was controlled by the union. The union, in turn, claimed that the company had responsibility for hiring. While the arguments go on, the demands of minorities go unmet. Or, the demands of public employees for higher wages can be juxtaposed with the demands of local citizens’ groups for lower taxes. Even if the balancing of demands is not done explicitly, it is probably true that the resultant organizational decisions represent an implicit weighting of the forces that impinge upon and constrain its administration.

Source: Pfeffer Jeffrey, Salancik Gerald (2003), The External Control of Organizations: A Resource Dependence Perspective, Stanford Business Books; 1st edition

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